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Nora Bennis (11 November 1940 – 11 February 2019)[1][2] was an Irish housewife and political activist from Limerick, who was a prominent advocate of traditional Catholic family values in the 1990s.[3]


Early and personal lifeEdit

Bennis was born Nora Shinners, the daughter of Paul Shinners, a veteran of the Easter Rising and Fianna Fáil supporter who emigrated to England and returned to Limerick after marrying Margaret, with whom he had five children.[3] Aged 22, Nora married Gerry Bennis, who worked for Telecom Éireann and was prominent in Limerick GAA;[3] his brothers Richie and Phil both won a 1973 All-Ireland hurling medal.[4] Nora and Gerry had three daughters (Gráinne, Aéidín and Muirne) and an adopted son (Rory).[3] She taught Irish dance.[5]

Early activismEdit

Bennis began her activism after going to a 1990 conference in Brighton hoping to hear Mother Teresa, who did not attend.[3] She was impressed by speakers who criticised the "liberal agenda".[3] After the 1992 X case reopened Ireland's abortion debate, she started Women Working at Home and the Irish Mothers Working at Home Association, as a support network for housewives who felt isolated or ignored.[3][6] She criticised the Department of Education's sex education program as being values-free,[7] and its "Stay Safe" program of child sexual abuse awareness as undermining parental authority.[8]

In 1994 she became leader of the Solidarity Movement, an alliance of independent political candidates linked to the Family Solidarity pressure-group.[3] She stood as an independent in Munster in the 1994 European Parliament election, getting 5% of the first-preference vote.[9] This unexpectedly strong showing increased her media profile.[3] In 1995 the Solidarity Movement was part of the "No to Divorce" campaign, one of two coalitions which opposed the successful 1995 referendum to introduce divorce.[3] After the referendum, she founded the National Party, which was anti-abortion and proposed a £100 allowance for non-working mothers.[5] She stood for the party in Limerick East in the general elections of 1997 and 2002 and the 1998 by-election, receiving progressively fewer votes.[9]


Bennis was spokesperson for Catholic Democrats (previously named National Party and the Christian Democrats) and secretary of Mothers Alliance Ireland; both groups opposed the 2012 children's rights amendment.[10][11][12] She formed a group called Alliance of Parents Against the State, intended to co-ordinate opposition to the amendment.[13] She claimed the amendment would put children "in grave danger of being legally snatched by the State".[14]

Bennis was one of three substitutes for Catholic Democrats candidate Theresa Heaney in the South constituency in the 2014 European elections.[15] She was a candidate in the 2016 General Election in the Limerick City constituency, where she failed to be elected, receving 1.4% of the first-preference vote.[16][17][18]


Bennis died in Limerick on 11 February 2019, aged 78.[2]


  1. ^ "You know who I am, and what I stand for". The Irish Times. 26 May 1997. Retrieved 9 November 2012. You can tell by the smile lines around her 56 year old eyes.
  2. ^ a b Cathy Halloran (11 February 2019). "Campaigner Nora Bennis dies in Limerick aged 78". RTÉ. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cummins, Mary (21 September 1995). "Seeking the return of Dev's dream". The Irish Times. p. 13.; reprinted in
  4. ^ Woulfe, Jimmy (17 August 2007). "Limerick hurling fan dies of cancer on death row". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 10 July 2015. Nora Bennis, who is married to Richie Bennis’s brother, Gerry
  5. ^ a b Murdoch, Alan (27 May 1997). "'Rainbow' coalition narrows gap in run-up to Irish poll". The Independent. London. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  6. ^ Kennedy, Finola (2001). Cottage to crèche: family change in Ireland. Institute of Public Administration. ISBN 9781902448589.
  7. ^ Inglis, Tom (1999-01-01). Lessons in Irish sexuality. University College Dublin Press. p. 117. ISBN 9781900621168.
  8. ^ "Bennis leads national Solidarity campaign for family values". The Irish Times. 6 July 1994. p. 4. Retrieved 14 November 2012.(subscription required)
  9. ^ a b Took, Christopher; Seán Donnelly. "Nora Bennis". electionsireland. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  10. ^ Griffin, Dan (6 November 2012). "No campaign bemoans lack of time and resources -". The Irish Times. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  11. ^ Reilly, Jerome (4 November 2012). "Neither-seen-nor-heard campaign is not giving up". Sunday Independent. Dublin. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  12. ^ Minihan, Mary (30 October 2012). "Who opposes children's referendum?". The Irish Times. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  13. ^ Collins, Stephen (17 October 2012). "Yes campaign in pole position to carry proposal but turnout concerns persist". The Irish Times. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  14. ^ Bennis, Nora (2 November 2012). "Why I will vote no in children's referendum". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  15. ^ "EUROPEAN ELECTIONS 2014 SOUTH CONSTITUENCY NOTICE OF POLL". Office of the Returning Officer. Cork: City Sheriff's Office. 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-19. Retrieved 2014-05-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^
  18. ^