Photography Ellius Grace 

the women who fought to repeal the eighth

On the 25th of May, two in three voters secured fundamental reproductive rights for women in the Republic of Ireland. Photographer Ellius Grace captured some of the women making history.

by i-D Team; photos by Ellius Grace
|
07 June 2018, 5:00am

Photography Ellius Grace 

On 25 May, the Republic of Ireland voted to repeal the medieval law preventing women from seeking abortions in their own country. It was a landmark decision that finally gave women the right to make their own choices about their own bodies. And as the pressure builds on Northern Ireland to follow suit, meet some of the women who were there to make their Yes vote heard.

Rachel Quinn

Rachel Quinn, 33

How did you feel about Saturday’s result?
I was so happy to see the public vote so overwhelmingly in favour of progressive legislation and ensuring safe healthcare for Irish women. At the same time, it felt strange to celebrate the legalisation of abortion because it is so personal, sensitive and often sad for the women it affects.

Did you celebrate this weekend?
A very good friend of mine is a prominent and incredibly hard working activist fighting for the repeal of the eighth amendment. I spent the results day with her, and felt happy that Irish women will finally have the support they deserve.


Viva Dean

Viva Dean, 22

What does it mean to be young and Irish today?
Ireland was a colony for so long -- I think as a people we’re used to having this country stripped bare and thinking of it only as a place to leave. Being young and Irish today means staying here because it’s what you choose. It means feeling powerful and proud in a way we never have before. It means building a new national identity that is authentically ours, and challenging each other to do more.

How did you feel about Saturday's result?
Intense relief.

Why do you think the Yes campaign was so successful in orchestrating change?
I think it comes down to how they managed to make the campaign transcendent. It reached all demographics, crossing age, gender, class, sexuality with the message being: this issue is bigger than you and your own personal beliefs.

Emma Garnett

Emma Garnett

What does it mean to be young and Irish today?
Freaked out about housing.

Did you celebrate this weekend?
I celebrated my right to vote on the Friday by eating with my sister and Mam, wearing a tutu and my "melanin on fleek" t-shirt, drinking champagne with the girl fam in my sun trap garden.

Why do you think the Yes campaign was so successful in orchestrating change?
A serious amount of hard work on behalf of all the pro choice activists out there. Decades of their hard work has lead to cracks in the foundations of the patriarchy. It’s only a matter of time before it topples down.

Laragh McCann

Laragh McCann, 28

If you could live anywhere else, where would you live and why?
Over the past twelve years I’ve lived in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney among other cities. Living in Dublin now is very much a choice. Although it can sometimes feel slow and stuck in its ways, as the Yes vote has just proven, things are changing.

Did you celebrate this weekend?
I did. Me and my friends went into Dublin which felt like a parade -- so many people were on the streets in celebration. Everybody was hugging and shaking their heads in disbelief. I think everybody was quite humbled by the whole thing - - the magnitude, the history and the pain attached to it, and how the country came together to change things. To find out it was repealed was dizzying.

Why do you think the Yes campaign was so successful in orchestrating change?
Nobody believed the echo chamber online -- until the last moment nobody stopped working, almost everyone I know went out on the street or canvassed door to door, speaking to people in person, urging them to trust women.

Michelle McCann

Michelle McCann, 26

What do you do?
I moved home from LA recently, and have been busy campaigning up until last week. I'm figuring out the next step now.

What does it mean to be young and Irish today?
Obviously there's so much work to do to become a fair and just society (Direct Provision needs to go), but after the result of this referendum, and also marriage equality three years ago, we can breathe for just a minute and be proud and maybe even have hope that things are moving in the right direction.

What does a Yes result mean for Ireland's next generation?
Ireland is catching up. The Catholic Church has finally lost it's grip. Constitutionally, the lives of pregnant people are no longer valued as equal to that of an embryo or fetus, so pregnancy isn't something to be terrified of, hooray!

Mona Atkinson

Mona Atkinson, 29

How did you feel about Saturday's result?
Deeply emotional and incredibly proud of this country.

What does a Yes result mean for Ireland's next generation?
Bodily autonomy for those of us who can become pregnant, and a deeper sense of solidarity and empathy.

Why do you think the Yes campaign was so successful in orchestrating change?
I think the greatest success of the Yes campaign was to inspire young people to register to vote, and I think that this will have a lasting impact beyond this particular issue.

Pearl Reddington

Pearl Reddington, 22

How did you feel about Saturday's result?
Relief. Overwhelming relief.

Why do you think the Yes campaign was so successful in orchestrating change?
They gave the people right at the heart of the issue a voice, rather than just politicians. The Yes campaign created a platform for doctors, nurses, midwives, social workers, etc. to speak, and we were ready to listen to them.

Did you celebrate this weekend?
I found out in the best possible way. I was sitting on top of a shipwreck on Inis Oírr, surrounded by pals who had travelled to the Island for Drop Everything festival after voting early that morning. My weak phone signal wouldn’t load RTE News, but as I was trying to refresh the homepage someone grabbed the performer’s microphone and over the sound of crashing waves announced the results as Gaeilge. I just lay back and breathed in the Atlantic air. Looking up at the cloudless sky I suddenly felt very small and very big at the same time.

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