Mary Robinson arrived for her interview hotfoot from Copenhagen, where she had been participating in the global summit on climate control. For the moment, the former President's life seems to consist of one long round of airports and summits, trying to bring moral influence on politicians who are often deeply resistant to her arguments. Where does this idealism and often thwarted passion come from?
She talks about her privileged upbringing in a doctor's house in Ballina, Co. Mayo, and the sense of obligation that was instilled alongside that privilege. She discusses how she nearly became a nun, and yet went on to scandalise her Catholic parents in a series of confrontations with the power and influence of the Catholic Church, especially in relation to women. However, perhaps surprisingly, her Christian faith, though challenged by these battles and broadened by encounters with other religions, remains intact at the core of her moral vision for the world.