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Mary La Belle

Written by Lainey Dempsey (2022)

Mary LaBelle

A Dublin lass in 1908
Cam’ tae Dundee fer she wis irate
Winston Churchill had got her goat
By sayin’ wummin shouldne vote
Noo Mary Maloney had a plan
tae silence the wee pompous man
A dinner bell she sought tae gain
then followed him roon oan
his campaign

wis a’ they heard
They couldne catch a single word
If he should speak, if he should shout
would drown him out

Now Churchill had a speech tae make
Tae workers at the factory gate
But suffragettes fae near and far
Made him choose tae speak fae inside his car
But who should ride up in a cart
Tae stop him before he could start?
Mary Maloney breenges in and
lets her disapproval ring

Fer a’ yer bigotry and lies
And if ye dinne turn about
will drown ye out

Fer seven days she followed him
And stood afore him with a grin
She’d raise a brow with bell in hand
And dare he go ahead as planned
Wi’ brand new speakers at some cost
He tried tae get his point across
But policies he couldne quote
Fer when he tried tae win a vote

wi’ a’ her might
She rang the day intae the night
Though Winston frowned
the crowd a’ laughed
And wondered wid her arm drap aff
fer Mary LaBelle
In ten years time she’ll vote hersel’
If Churchill fer her mark should tout
will drown him out!

Mary Maloney came from Dublin. She was a suffragette and made her way from her home in London to Dundee to literally noise up Winston Churchill during his campaigning to become an MP. It’s worth mentioning that her choosing such a noisy form of protest would be a riskier tactic today in the UK due to last year’s stealthily introduced Policing Act. The all encompassing ‘noise trigger’ clause could now make a criminal out of any modern day Mary La Belle.


Over the years I have taken part in and helped to organise many peaceful protests. On occasion, I have felt frustration that people are carrying banners identical to those of 20 years earlier and beyond. There have been moments when for me, the importance of showing up to a rainy George Square was not really because I believed there would be an instant change to government policy on war, human rights or climate change. It was because standing shoulder to soggy shoulder, with people who have also not given up on shouting in to the void, reaffirmed my faith in humankind. In these days of fear-mongering and ‘doom scrolling’, there are many brilliant humans who do not succumb to cynicism and feelings of powerlessness. They maintain hope and momentum, raise their voices and refuse to become numb and silent.


I show up because, every now and again, we reach that critical mass and real positive change can and does occur. These things can take a long time. Women had already been campaigning for decades by the time Mary Maloney rang her bell. It would be a further decade before some women over 30 were given the vote and 20 years on before women were able to vote on the same terms as men.


In 1928, women finally equally had a say in which of the 98% male candidates should be elected to govern them.

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