- 30 Sep 17
The annual March for Choice took place in Dublin today, and tens of thousands turned out for what will – almost certainly – be the last of these occasions before the referendum to Repeal the 8th. Anne Sexton reports...
There were chants and placards, posters, t-shirts and badges. There was anger, hope, and defiance, music and speeches. Most importantly, there were people — tens of thousands of people.
The 6th Annual March for Choice — and likely the last one before the referendum next year — was a show of strength and solidarity. Women and men — students, mothers, fathers, teenagers, grandparents, LGBTQ+ folks, immigrants and sex workers — all turned out en masse to support the call for repealing the 8th Amendment.
We were joined in solidarity with marches taking place in 19 other cities around the world, including Glasgow, Paris, Berlin, Vancouver, New York and Sydney. In London, pro-choice campaigners used chalk, to mark each of the many thousands of women from Ireland who travel to the UK every year for terminations.
The crowds began to gather at the Garden of Remembrance at Parnell Square hours before the march was due to start. Hot Press spoke to a number of marchers to find out what had brought them there. Most had decided to march because they believe that reproductive freedom is a basic human right. Others had experienced personal tragedy because of Ireland’s restrictive laws. Next summer’s referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment is only the first step in a very long process of reversing these laws.
Speakers at the event included Northern Ireland’s Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and Goretti Horgan, as well as People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith and comedian Tara Flynn. Lisa Hannigan, along with acapella group Voices for Choice, performed a rousing version of MILCK’s “Quiet” — a song that has become synonymous with women’s marches and reproductive freedom around the world.
The song could not be more apt for Ireland. For decades, the tens of thousands of women in Ireland who have had abortions have been forced into silence about their experiences. If 2017’s March for Choice tells us anything, it’s this: women are no longer willing to have their voices stifled.
The campaign to Repeal the 8th will be a long one. It may be arduous; it may even be bitter. But it is vital to build on the momentum that is already there. The movement is growing, and it’s getting loud. It will need to be very loud indeed.