The inaugural meeting of the Sheehy Skeffington School on Human Rights and Social Justice took place in 2012. The School was formed to provide a space for reflection on the formative years of the revolutionary period, being especially conscious of the need to compare the aspirations of the early revolutionaries with the political, social and economic outcomes of the modern state. The particular focus of the School was to explore what progress had been made towards realising the socially justifiable goals of that era. The events of interest included self-determination, the embedding of democratic principles, cultural revival and the struggles for economic and gender equality, labour rights and the eradication of poverty.
While the retrospective lens of the School was always a human rights one, it was tempered by the reality that these events took place some 30 years before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nonetheless, the concepts that informed that period were firmly grounded in the progression of human dignity as the cornerstone of a civilised and righteous society. The abolition of slavery, the development of notions of liberty, equality and collective action, the struggles of the suffragette movement and the emergence of an economic analysis of capital all contributed to the emergence of what is understood today as a human rights paradigm.
During the seven years of the school topics, insights and viewpoints have been presented by academics, activists, parliamentarians, lawyers, actors, poets and musicians. Many have been thought-provoking, others captured the generative emotions of the period and some provided insightful, even radical, interpretations of events and consequences.
The School completes its sequence of schools with its 2019 programme tonight.
Sheehy Skeffington School Organising Committee
The Sheehy Skeffington School Organising Committee wishes to thank all its contributors, donors and friends who have supported the school over the years.