In less than two weeks, we will know the result of the referendum which proposes to repeal the 8th Amendment in the Irish constitution. The end is nigh, people, it is DECISION time. For those left undecided, it’s time to get making up their minds. A hashtag caught my eye in the last few days, #whoneedsyouryes. It was sparked by a campaign from the National Women’s Council of Ireland under the same name, and contains powerful stories and thought provoking insights from people thinking about this referendum. If you haven’t already, I compel you to read through at least some of the tweets. For me, I wrote what I could fit into the character limit as one of the categories of people I believe my yes will be for on the 25th. But afterwards, so many more occurred to me, and I felt the need to share them. This is who my yes is for.
As we come up to the referendum which will decide whether or not the 8th Amendment of Bunreacht na hEireann is repealed, there is a whole lot of information being thrown our way. In 1597, Francis Bacon wrote “Knowledge itself is power”, which has been interpreted as saying information is power. However, in the current climate of fake news and scaremongering, the debate as to whether to allow women to decide for themselves what happens to their bodies or to leave it up to the state rages on. What is clear is that the funding for the campaign is unequal, with the conservative leave-it-as-it-is side being able to fund a far larger poster and leafleting campaign than the grassroots activism seen on the Repeal side. With increased funds comes the increased capacity to reach more people – and so it is necessary for those on the side of change to ensure that the truth does out, that these myths and lies and fake statistics are called out for what they are. Read More
In Ireland, we are in a time of change. While the rest of the world is shouting Me Too, we are shouting “Listen to Me”. In 2018, our government has promised an as-of-yet unscheduled referendum to decide whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Irish constitution. This amendment gives equal rights to the unborn as it’s mother; meaning that abortion is an illegal activity in our country and disallowing women from invoking their own autonomy over their bodies. The campaign has been raging to get this referendum for many years, and has certainly escalated in the last five years. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about it, and it won’t be the last. This referendum has the possibility to change the lives of women in this country, and allow them rights to gain healthcare they would be entitled to in their own country elsewhere. For that to happen, we need to, in the (paraphrased) words of Mary Robinson on her election to the office of president in 1990, “instead of rocking the cradle rock the system”. There are many facets to this campaign, and one of them is EveryDay Stories.
Last week, I was wandering around Cork City when I came across a sight which turned my stomach. An anti-abortion group, Youth Defence, were protesting outside Brown Thomas on Patrick Street. As well as their usual selection of banners with images of dead foetuses, they also had lots of volunteers handing out leaflets with the same. So far, so unfortunately familiar. There were lots of families around, children are off school and the weather was nice. For the most part, parents were trying to rush their children through the area, ignoring the stands and trying to distract their kids. This was a job made much harder by the volunteers, who were handing the leaflets to the children.
I’m a big fan of non fiction and documentary, in both visual and written media forms. I like true crime, factual accounts of people’s lives, adding knowledge and new experiences to my mind which can change the way I think about things. Fiction is great and all, I get very invested in the lives of people who don’t exist, but there’s something special about learning about the real people and feeling the real emotions, knowing more about the world around me. I’ve found Netflix to be great for providing new documentaries for opening my horizons – from stuff on what we’re eating, to different religious cults, to treatment of women in different parts of the world. It all informs who I am as a person, and who I am raising my child to be. This month has definitely been one with thought provoking watching, not easy watching, but documentaries with important messages that everyone should see.Â Read More
A bit of a letter I felt necessary after the recent developments in this week’s 2016 Rose of Tralee competition. Apologies for the length.
Here we are again, continuing the conversation about a line in our constitution which forces half the population into a second class citizen role. One that requires permission, only given by begging, pleading, desperate measures, from the bigger authorities, because heaven help us if they were trusted with making their own decisions. Yes, boys and girls, we’re talking about the 8th amendment again. I’m actually tired of talking about it, but it’s not something we can stop the conversation about because it’s still there, glaring at us up from Bunreacht na hEireann, highlighting the role of women as vessels. De Valera’s Ireland is still alive and kicking according to that piece of paper.
By now, you’ll have heard that Donald Trump is running for President of the United States of America. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in which case, lucky you), you’ll have observed that his campaign has been brash, offensive, and discriminatory in just about every way possible – racism, sexism, and a whole pack of incitement to hatred thrown in for good measure. Recently, he made a statement which caught my eye more than the others – and given the dramatics he’s come out with, that is really saying something. Upon being interviewed in Wisconsin lately, he statedÂ that women who seek abortion should be subject to â€œsome form of punishment.â€ Media uproar ensued. Women’s rights activists lamented and shouted. Here in Ireland, we looked on at the potential new leader of a world superpower condemning his country to our current state: where women’s choice in their reproductive rights is limited and intrinsically linked with the opinions of people whose lives it will never affect.
Ireland, 2014. A country reclaiming itself from economic ruin, with an educated workforce, first world health service and political backing towards becoming a more equal society in a referendum next year to ensure marriage equality becomes a part of our constitution. So far, so good. Yes, that health service may be crippled under huge waiting lists, that educated workforce vastly under-utilised and unemployed and an inference that equality is not something which should be campaigned for using our national media has occurred in the last week, but hey, we’re getting there. Our women are even allowed vote for the politician of their choice, and drive cars, and have full autonomy over their own bodies… oh, wait. We’re not talking about the same Ireland.