A historic day for women’s rights in Ireland. Although Irish law on strikes is very restrictive, the social strike promoted by the “strike4repeal” campaign brought thousands of people across the country onto the streets to call for the government to hold a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which, on the grounds that the right to life of the unborn child is equal to that of the mother, makes abortion a fundamentally illegal act.
In an unusually sunny Dublin, hundreds of protestors dressed in black (the official color of the demonstration) picketed the main government buildings all morning, before heading towards O’Connell Bridge, the capital’s main bridge. Students from the various university campuses also gathered there and the bridge was blocked for a few hours, bringing the city to a standstill. The protestors chanted “Not the church, not the State, women must decide their fate” and “Enda, Enda, we want a referendum” (Enda Kenny is Ireland’s prime minister). A big march took place in the evening to end the day.
But it wasn’t just in the capital; demonstrations and picketing animated all of Ireland’s major cities. Today, the parliament will discuss a bill put forward by the opposition group People Before Profit to reduce the penalty for abortion to a symbolic fine of 1 euro, but the government has already announced a vote against it. Meanwhile, the decisions made by the “citizen assembly”, a group of 99 randomly selected citizens tasked with issuing recommendations for a potential legislative reform, are yet to be announced. We spoke about it with Avril Corroon, a spokesperson for the group that organized the strike.