IT was both an honour and a pleasure to be able to hear Helena Kennedy QC giving the opening address at the 30th Annual John Hewitt International Summer School. She began by speaking about inequality and race. She has worked on cases for women and children, terrorists, National security and people accused of homicide. She says she’s had a very fulfilling life and believes that a fair trial is a human right.

She was born and raised in a Glasgow council estate to a father from the South of Ireland and a mother from the North and through education – has argued her way to one of the highest ranks in British Law.

She’s the Chair of the EU Justice Committee and is on the Board of Medical Aid for Palestinians among many other humanitarian charities. Her political and social ideals are right up my street. She started the Helena Kennedy Foundation, a charity which offers bursaries to adults wanting a second chance at education.

In matters of employment, she says that people cannot afford to have families because the types of jobs being created are not real jobs. Referring to zero hours contracts and so called ‘gig economies’ being unsustainable for real life. She says that welfare has been cut to the bone and having a huge detrimental impact on industrial towns that are no more.

When asked about Brexit, she replied that the referendum result brought her great sadness because Human Rights and regulation will change.

With regards to the refugee situation in Italy, she said that all European countries have a duty to share around the placement of refugees. Saying that Syrian and African people don’t leave their own nations willingly. She says we need to find a way of helping those people in their countries so that they may find ways of sustaining themselves.

She didn’t have much to say about Donald Trump, pointing out that America is made up of people who have escaped from famine and misery.

An interesting anecdote about her work in Iraq concluded the address. She was working over there inspecting prisons after the coalition forces withdrawal. She interviewed women prisoners who had no access to exercise. They did have a washing line for doing the male prisoners washing though. All the women were in prison for immorality reasons. Some of them were seen talking to men and were sent to jail. They said that life under Saddam was bad but they had more freedom then. They were able to go to university and drive cars, able to go outside alone. Now that the country has been ‘freed’ they are now living under Sharia Law. So tell that to anyone that says the Iraq invasion was positive because it gave women their rights.

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