By Joan Burton TD, Minister for Social Protection. This article first appeared in the Irish Daily Mail Friday 6/12/13.
As long as I live I will remember that bright Sunday afternoon in February 1990 when Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
FW de Klerk had announced about nine days beforehand that the ban on the ANC was to be lifted and that its leader would be released from prison after 27 years. De Clerk did not give a date and the general expectation was that it would be months before it happened.
Then, suddenly on Saturday February 10, a photo was shown on TV of the first meeting between de Klerk and Mandela along with the news that the release would happen the next day.
My husband Pat and I had been members of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in Ireland for many years. The movement was led by Kadar Asmal, a South African who had lectured in Trinity College since the 1960s, and his wife Louise. Kadar invited us to their house to watch the event live on TV together with other campaigners who had worked for decades to achieve this cherished moment and the inevitable result that would follow – the complete dismantling of the hated apartheid system. (more…)