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Rallying for Choice in Belfast Okt 14 17
Rally 4 Choice successfully sees off annual anti-choice parade in Ireland
Every year in either Dublin or Belfast the pro and anti choice movements come head to head around the so called ‘Rally for Life’. This year it was Dublin’s unwilling role to play host to the bigot parade. It mattered more years than many as a referendum on the hated 8th Amendment that bans abortion is promised for next year. It could be that the next Dublin bigot parade scheduled for 2019 will come after they have suffered a major defeat.
The anti-choice movement isn’t just concerned with maintaining a law that would jail women and other pregnant people for 14 years for obtaining an abortion in Ireland. It has a much larger hetero-patriarchal agenda that has suffered defeat after defeat over the last three decades. Access to contraception, equal pay, the end of the marriage bar (until 1973 in Ireland women had to quite public sector jobs if they got married), decriminalisation of sex between men, an equal age of consent, divorce, sex education in schools, legal recognition of trans people’s gender - you name the issue and they have lost on it. The constitutional ban on abortion that they forced through in the 8th amendment back in the dark days of 1983 is almost their last stand and Saturday shows it’s going very badly. They still retain control of schools and hospitals but that too is now being challenged. All this goes to show this isn’t about ‘life’ but about protecting a deeply discriminatory society set up to favour straight men above everyone else as one mechanism for preserving capitalist class rule. (BTW If you were wondering what ‘hetero-patriarchal’ meant above, the rest of the paragraph might explain why it’s a useful shorthand.)
With all that in mind WSM members were happy to take to the streets on Saturday as part of the Rally4Choice counter protest. The annual counter protest is always a bit intense, the idea is not to try to outnumber the anti-choice parade but just to make sure they understand they will be challenged. So a few hundred pro-choice activists gather to counter protest what is generally a few thousand anti-choice marchers. This is their really big effort of the year with a huge amount being spent on advertising and bussing people to Dublin. We are essentially there to spoil their party by contesting the public space they are trying to briefly claim as their own.
In Dublin we gather near the Spire as they march down O’Connell street and line both sides of their route with signs chanting pro-choice slogans. Each year they have some new gimmick to try to counter this, two years back they brought lots of huge banners they held sideways to try to hide us from sight. The gimmick this year was a pipe band which unsuccessfully tried to drown out the chanting but only really succeeded in bringing their own march to a grinding halt.
This band is a good illustration of their broad agenda, it seems to be part of the Irish Society for Christian Civilisation which self describes as being “born from the idea of a Counterrevolution, a movement that would embrace every field of action, especially in art, ideas and culture.” This may be a section or off-shoot of the catholic quasi fascist Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP) organisation which literally opposes the “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” of the French revolution.
A lot of the turnout on the Rally4Choice is from isolated rural towns and villages. One of the positive aspects every year is the shock people who come to parade through Dublin or Belfast suffer when they discover they can’t use the shame and abuse tactics that still maintain silence in some villages. The anti-choice organisations are given access to catholic schools to spread lies and as a result they recruit teenagers for that brief period between having what you believe is a ‘strong moral opinion’ and the reality of life happening and copping on. Every year a fresh crop of a few dozen are holding the front banner and shouting only to be long gone by the time the next march comes around. Essentially there are no twenty year olds that are not some form of religious fundamentalist and precious few of those once the front of the march passes, check out our video of the entire march for confirmation.
The experience on our side is different. The actual experience on the day is a combination of shock that there are indeed still a few thousand willing to march to maintain a law mandating the jailing of women followed by elation that they have once more been seen off. The strong emotional atmosphere of the counter protest and standing together is a positive bonding experience that helps us work through the other disagreements that are part and parcel of political organisation.
Saturday’s march turned out to be relatively uneventful. Both their spirits and numbers were down quite considerably, they already have the smell of defeat. Most years known fascists are spotted taking part in their parade, fascists in general are doubly anti-choice. Following on from the nazis they want to deny abortion to ‘white’ women and impose abortions on others. In 1339 they made abortion illegal for ‘Aryans’, in 1943 they made providing abortion to an ‘Aryan’ woman punishable by death. In all countries today fascist organisations are linked to anti-choice movements.
This year we spotted two know far right activists and one woman who repeatedly gave the ’seig heil’ fascist salute as she passed the counter protest. There was no intervention by stewards at the time and when we tweeted photos of her doing so the anti-choice organisers first tried to claim she was waving, then that she was pointing and then that the pictures were fake. When video was posted they retreated back to claiming she was waving and best of us that us pointing out this behaviour was off-putting (rather than the saluting!). There is material for a book in the attempts at denial and distraction around those photos. Justin Barett did tweet / claim that his far-right National Party had taken part but no one spotted them (or him) on the march so if they did they snuck in at some point after the counter protest.
The main (and traditional) post-march controversy was over how many actually marched. The anti-choice movement was once very powerful because it had wealthy members in positions of power. This was in the 1980s and things have changed, but this allowed them to appoint people to powerful positions in state institutions. This perhaps explains why at protest after protest, RTÉ - the state broadcaster - reports as fact vastly inflated estimates of how many attended their protests.
It was no different this time, RTÉ headlined that ‘10s of thousands’ had marched and in the body of the report reproduced without comment a claim by the organisers that ’70,000 had marched’. In fact, as we proved, it was more like 5,500. At the time of writing - 4 days later - RTÉ have yet to correct their report or even admit the numbers in it have been challenged but otherwise we are pleased with our role as the meddling kids who stopped them getting away with their outlandish claims.
The only heated confrontation we observed was when that far right religious pipe band on the march that was hoping to drown out pro-choice chants deliberately backed right up against one section of the counter protest. As photographers arrived to capture an image of this some of the counter protesters jumped in front of the band with placards. This led to some pushing and shoving and the arrival of more photographers, blocking the route of the march entirely. Eventually a cop ordered the band to march away and, looking somewhat crestfallen, they did so. Rather bizarrely, they must have then left the march and circled back because a few minutes later they marched through again, without stopping this time.
Some fresh comedy was provided this year by a crudely done banner with far too many words on it that tried to proclaim that anti-choice politics "has nothing to do with religion". But all throughout the march there were priests, nuns, lots of people waving rosary prayer beads, pictures of catholic saints and the previous pope. Best of all towards the end was a sizeable bloc carrying a half life size statue of the 'Virgin' Mary on a flower strewn board at shoulder height while others waved larger posters of her. That whole bloc was reciting the 'Hail Mary' prayer as they marched past.
Once the anti-choice march had passed, the pro-choice counter demonstration joyously took the street behind them and followed the back of their march as far as Liberty Hall (about 500m away). There we stopped and dispersed with the sense of a job well done. The annual counter demonstration is not a major event but those who took part this year certainly came away with fresh determination for the campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment and fight for bodily autonomy for all.
Words: Andrew Flood (follow Andrew on Twitter)
Facebook Photo album from the Rally4Choice
So 25 Feb, 14:02
March for Choice 2017 - report & video from Dublin 23:03 Fr 13 Okt 0 comments
Saturday the 30th of September 2017 will go down as a high point in the fight for abortion rights in the Republic of Ireland, and that is a struggle that stretches back decades. Years of campaigning and maintaining a focus on the issue, saw a massive crowd of nearly 30,000 people take to the streets for the annual March for Choice as organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign [ARC]. The calls are for action, and the need for Repeal of the 8th Amendment which bans abortion in almost all circumstances.
Thousands take part in pro-choice #Strike4Repeal in Ireland 18:46 Do 30 Mär 0 comments
International Womens Day in Ireland saw thousands take to the streets in a sequence of 'in work time' protests under the heading 'Strike4Repeal'. Abortion is illegal in almost all circumstances and the protests were an attempt by pro-choice activists to forced the government to stop delaying a referendum to repeal the anti-choice 8th Amendment placed in the Irish constitution in 1983. Workers Solidarity Movement members took part in organising the day and in the aftermath produced a number of articles and videos detailing what happened.
Emergency protest for abortion demand held in Belfast 20:07 Mi 02 Dez 0 comments
Somewhere in the region of 70 people attended an emergency protest yesterday outside Belfast City Hall.
Amnesty International is holding its International Council Meeting in Dublin 18:07 Mo 10 Aug 0 comments
Amnesty International is holding its International Council Meeting in Dublin this week and earlier today many of the delegate attending staged a protest at the Dail (Irish Parliament) against the criminalisation of women under Ireland's anti-choice laws.
Dublin protests in solidarity with the Belfast mother charged with supplying the abortion pill to he... 20:35 Do 23 Jul 0 comments
A couple of hundred people came to the pro choice solidarity rally in Dublin, Ireland last nigh organised by the WSMt. It was called to protest against the prosecution of a women in Belfast for supplying her daughter with the abortion pill.
Belfast woman charged for helping daughter procure an abortion 18:44 Mo 20 Jul 0 comments
News broke on the 19th June that a Belfast woman is to stand trial for helping her daughter procure an abortion. In response on 24th June a letter was handed in signed by 215 abortion activists admitting that they are guilty of breaking the law by either taking or helping someone procure the Early Medical Abortion (EMA) pill.
Ireland - Migrant X refused an abortion and forced to have a C-section 23:31 Do 21 Aug 0 comments
This is as complete a story about what happened to 'Migrant X' that we are aware of. Migrant X is a young migrant women who it emerged was refused an abortion by the Irish state despite apparently meeting the grounds of the X-case legislation and instead forced to carry the pregnancy and agree to a C-section. The pregnanacy itself was the result of rape, Migrant X attempted suicide after being refused the abortion and later went on a hunger and thirst strike. Once what had happened to her became known there were sizeable pro-choice solidarity demonstrations called across Ireland and at Irish embassies overseas. We have been given information that the migrant woman at the centre of the current forced pregnancy was 'committed' to a psychiatric hospital following her initial request for termination. It’s already known that the initial request was made when she was 8 weeks pregnant. It was this crucial period in which she was being held incommunicado which led directly to the Caesarian option being possible to impose as an ‘alternative’ to allowing her to access the abortion she had asked for.
Poor turnout in Ireland for Vigil for 'Life' despite massive spending 04:18 Mi 23 Jan 0 comments
Saturday in Dublin saw another desperate attempt by the anti-choice coalition to prevent legislation coming to the Dail (Irish parliament) to allow abortion where a women's life is under threat. Despite months of preparation, a spend that must have ran close to a million euro, and the parish priest at every mass in the country telling catholics they should attend, less that 15,000 turned up. Compared to the 150,000 women who have had to travel to obtain abortions in the last ecades this amounts to almost nothing, a handful of bigots bussed in from all over the country. [Italiano]
20 years on X case to finally be legislated 18:40 Mi 19 Dez 0 comments
This afternoon the government had finally confirmed that it is to legislate for abortion access under the conditions of the X-case. While we can welcome the failure of the anti-choice movement to stop this announcement, despite frantically spending a quarter of a million dollars euro in ten days, this is so little so late that it is almost meaningless.
Irish parliament blockaded by 100s after 3rd refusal in 6 months to legislate for X-case 23:59 Fr 30 Nov 0 comments
Last night saw hundreds of pro-choice activists blockade the gates of the Dáil after TD's once more refused to pass X-case legislation. Twenty years after the X-case and one month after the death of Savita Halappanavar women in Ireland were told once more that the politicians had not had enough time. The political parties, in particular the Labour Party, were once more engaged in a cynical game of playing politics - a game that leaves pregnant women at continued risk in Irish hospitals.more >>
Decades of organising wins new abortion referendum in Ireland Feb 02 0 comments
The announcement that there will be a referendum to decriminalise abortion in Ireland is the product of decades of active campaigning. Pro-choice campaigners built for repeal ever since the hated 8th amendment was entered into the Constitution in 1983, putting a ban on abortion, which was already illegal in the country, into the constitution. If at first this seemed like a distant demand now repeal looks by far the most likely outcome in May. The story of how this happened illustrates how change comes in general. That is not through elections but through people getting organised to demand that change, regardless of which politicians happen to be running the show in any particular year.
Rallying for Choice in Belfast Okt 14 0 comments
On 14th October 2017, Rally for Choice will march through the streets of Belfast. - Last year saw us counter protest the Rally for Life in the North of Ireland, for the first time we marched against their lies instead of our usual static demo. Our counter protest was a huge success, despite being organised at short notice and with only a handful of activists. The protest burst across our streets and convened at Buoy Park afterwards for speakers. We outnumbered the Rally for Life 2016 significantly.
The WSM on the struggle for abortion rights in Ireland Okt 13 0 comments
This is the Workers Solidarity Movement position paper on Abortion Rights as collectively agreed at July 2017 WSM National Conference. This position paper sits under the Patriarchy paper which in turn is under the Anarchism, Oppression & Exploitation paper, and hence does not repeat any of that material in these.
Next week will see the promotion of Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA (Member of Northern Ireland Assembly), Arlene Foster to the position of DUP leader and the North of Ireland’s First Minister. Foster is a woman who was once described to have “learned a lot from the likes of Thatcher when it comes to dealing with men in politics."
Over 1000 early medical abortion pills seized by Irish customs Sep 29 0 comments
Over 1,000 abortion pills were seized last year at customs, a figure that represents double the amount seized the two years previous. This fact is very much in contradiction with the myth of the anti-choice side that there is no demand for abortion in Ireland.more >>
From Dublin to Brussels demand universal access to abortion Sep 26 WSM 0 comments
The Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland is in full support of the protests in Brussels on the 28th September demanding a guaranteed, free, and accessible access to abortion across Europe. The EU has stood by idly while the bodily autonomy of pregnant people continues to be violated by some member states including Ireland and Malta. It has similarly done nothing while other member states progressively attack reproductive rights based on the political whimsy of the controlling parties of ever-increasing conservative governments. We hope the this mobilisation will demonstrate the united commitment to reproductive freedom for all.
Cork Queer Pride 2005: What are we Proud of? & who can we rely on? Aug 03 WSM 0 comments
So what are exactly are we proud of? Is it just that we are attracted to a particular gender or genders? Or, are we proud of our courageous history of struggles as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered/ LGBT/ Queer people for our rights, and against bigotry, oppression and hatred?