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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan — Dr. Kathleen Lynn Hospital

Last year my colleagues in the Seanad Independent group and I tabled a motion to name the children's hospital after Dr. Lynn. The motion was held without debate and passed by the Seanad.

It was a rare moment of partisanship with members of the Opposition and I happy to be speaking on this again today. Dr. Kathleen Lynn was an incredible woman whose life reflected the development of the State. Many women who contributed to the struggle for Irish independence were erased from history or had their roles downplayed. In recent years, historians, journalists and now politicians like ourselves have made attempts to pay tribute to their legacy. I will provide a brief summary of the life of Kathleen Lynn. I hope it will become evident why the hospital should be named after her.

Dr. Lynn contributed to the Rising in 1916 by being the chief medical officer for the Irish Citizen Army and ran one of the most important hospitals for children's health in the early years of the State. Dr. Lynn was a Sinn Féin politician, activist and medical doctor. She was born in County Mayo to a wealthy Church of Ireland family. Dr. Lynn first became politically active while working in Liberty Hall during the 1913 Lockout. She worked with Countess Markievicz and others in the soup kitchens. At that time, she also associated with James Connolly. Eventually, she served in Connolly's Irish Citizen Army in 1916. In addition, she was also involved in the suffragette movement. In 1916, she used her car to run guns into Dublin weeks before the Rising. Dr. Lynn was also stationed at City Hall. From this post, she treated the wounded. The position was recaptured by British forces on the evening of Easter Monday. After this, Dr. Lynn was arrested and imprisoned in Ship Street, Richmond Barracks, Kilmainham and Mountjoy Gaol.

Dr. Lynn also served as an executive and anti-treaty Sinn Féin Deputy in Dáil Éireann between 1923 and 1927. However, she did not take her seat in Dáil Éireann as she adhered to the abstentionist policy. Instead of taking her seat, she committed herself to other important causes. Dr. Lynn and other female members of Sinn Féin helped to establish St. Ultan's Children's Hospital. At the time, the care of infants was not a high priority for the medical profession in general. Infant mortality rates were very high and paediatric care was in the early stages of development. Despite the continued opposition of the male-dominated Irish medical establishment, Dr. Lynn worked tirelessly for the poor and the oppressed, helped provide quality medical care, conducted research into the causes of tuberculosis and, ultimately, helped manage wide-scale vaccination. A sharp reduction in the incidence of the disease is credited to her. In her personal life, she was an advocate for the Irish language within the Church of Ireland.

She is a person who represents many groups in our nation. I ask my colleagues to support the motion. Senator Fitzpatrick has done significant work. I thank her and our colleagues in the Gallery today for all the work they have done in this regard. I want the House to support this motion not just to pay tribute to the important work done by Dr. Kathleen Lynn, but also to commemorate all women who helped to develop Ireland into the country that it is today. I was a little bit disappointed to hear Senator Kyne talk about Kathleen Lynn in the manner he did today. I am sure that, if Fine Gael was in government when its new leader comes in, it would name the hospital the Heather Humphreys Hospital or the Helen McEntee Hospital. However, this particular woman contributed a great deal to the history of the State and this would be a fitting tribute to her. Everybody in here has agreed to name this hospital after Kathleen Lynn.

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