watch: fighting against ireland’s abortion laws
Thousands marched in Ireland this week to demand abortion rights. Watch the film i-D made at the protest, and read an interview with community organizer Avril Corroon.
In Ireland, abortion is illegal except in cases where the mother's physical or mental health is threatened; shockingly, it remains illegal even in cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormality, according to the 8th Amendment to the constitution in 1983. The UN has called for Ireland to address this law, which infringes on women's human rights and sees 12 women a day travel to the UK for a legal abortion, with those who cannot travel facing up to 14 years in prison for having an illegal abortion at home.
The people of Ireland are angry, and are demanding change. Pro-choice campaign Strike 4 Repeal organized a nationwide strike on International Women's Day. i-D filmed at the march and protest, and spoke to Avril Corroon, committee organizer and spokesperson for Strike 4 Repeal, about the strike and putting pressure on the government for a referendum, below.
Tell us more about the Strike 4 Repeal march.
We called the strike just over a month ago, after seven months of organizing and planning. Then we launched our video and our campaign and began our outreach to help other people self-organize. There were over 50 groups that planned action yesterday, all over Ireland and also internationally.
What does Strike 4 Repeal want to achieve?
Strike 4 Repeal was a callout to the government, demanding that they a call a date to set a referendum. But also, the strike is one of the most radical actions that have happened in the last 34 years, so we feel that there is now a mobilization of people who are ready to be more involved in pro choice activism — there is an anger and a hunger for a referendum. We hope we've shown that we're ready for a referendum and we won't wait any longer for the government to sideline the issue with delay tactics.
What was the atmosphere like at the protest?
In Dublin, the atmosphere was incredibly energetic and full, and there were so many people with different ways of participating. On a Wednesday morning it was incredible to see, starting with people who had taken time off work picketing with us in the morning at the Department of Justice, then at the department of the Taoiseach [Ireland's prime minister] and then the Department of Health, growing in numbers until we reached the bridge, where we were met by thousands more. The universities had walked out at 12 PM, so we formed a large march to occupy the O'Connor Bridge. At the high point there were approximately 8,000 of us there. There were people of all different ages and communities there, picketing together, shouting together, making as much noise as possible — there was a huge wave of solidarity between everyone.
How are young people supporting REPEAL the 8th?
There was a secondary school in Cork where the students walked out, which is a massive activation of people who are younger than 18, younger than the voting age. It's amazing that there are young people who are aware, and active, and want to be involved, as well as students.
What is the message you want to send?
The main message is to show that we won't wait any longer. We can't tolerate that 12 people a day are going across to the UK for abortions. We can't tolerate that there's a 14-year prison sentence hanging over us when we advise people how they can get illegal pills or when we take these illegal pills ourselves. We cannot wait for the government to sideline our reproductive health and we won't wait. We will escalate. There's been a mass mobilization, and those people are angry, and that is extremely legitimate given the abhorrent circumstances.
What is the next step in getting a referendum?
To continue to apply political pressure on the government by using direct action.
Text Lily Rose Thomas
Photography and film Donal Talbot