'now for northern ireland' projections appear on buildings across the uk
One year on from the Repeal vote, Amnesty International teamed up with artist Maser to (literally) put the spotlight on Northern Ireland, where abortion is still illegal.
Imagery via Amnesty International UK
One year ago this weekend, the Republic of Ireland made history by voting to repeal their 8th Amendment, a piece of legislation which prohibited abortion and forced Irish women to travel abroad for healthcare, or risk sourcing dangerous illegal terminations at home. While the Repeal the 8th campaign rejoiced, activists south and north of the border quickly turned their attention to the North of Ireland with the #NowForNI campaign. After the 8th was repealed, the North of Ireland became the only part of the UK and Ireland where abortion is still illegal, and punishable with up to life in prison.
One year on, that situation still stands, and it’s something activists are today putting a -- quite literal -- spotlight on, with a series of ‘Now For Northern Ireland’ projections lighting up buildings across London, Belfast, Dublin and Glasgow last night. As polling stations closed and the majority of our attention was focused on Europe, the images reminding us of a pressing human rights issue closer to home appeared on the site of the Northern Ireland Office in Westminster, The Mac building in Belfast, the Mary Barbour statue in Glasgow, and the Project Art Centre in Dublin – where the original Repeal mural appeared during the campaign.
The projections were the result of a collaboration between Amnesty International and renowned artist Maser, and repurposed the Repeal campaign’s heart-shaped branding to instead focus on the legal situation in the North, which remains one of the most restrictive (with the harshest criminal penalties) in Europe. “By consciously making the Repeal artwork copyright free, the public were empowered to take ownership of it, I was a messenger watching from the sidelines,” explains Maser. “With the people’s fierce collective energy, the artwork built huge momentum and spread across the state.
“Our friends in the North are now on their journey to revoke their outdated abortion laws. I am here to show my alliance. I am your defender.”
The stunt also attempted to draw attention to the UK government’s total inaction on the abortion issue, which has been ignored for a year as Brexit has dominated the news cycle. As the North of Ireland has been without a functioning government for over two years, it falls to the Tories -- who have joined forces with the ultra-conservative DUP -- to step in on the issue. As Theresa May announces her resignation this morning, it remains to be seen who will step in and whether they will bother to give the issue the attention it deserves.
“These projections shine a spotlight on the unjustifiable neglect of people in Northern Ireland,” said Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager. “Whilst dangerous roll-backs on reproductive rights are happening across US states, we must remember that our own Government is forcing its own citizens to live with these cruel laws. After Ireland’s vote there was so much hope that the UK Government would then act to change things in the North, but a year later we’re still waiting.”