March 8, International Women’s Day saw NUI Galway Femsoc, Pro-Choice Galway, Parents for Choice, and SU and USI representatives march with individuals in favour of repealing the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution in solidarity with protestors across Ireland.
Inspired by Black Monday in Poland, this was part of the nationwide call on Irish women to ‘strike’ to protest the inaction of the Government to call a referendum on the 8th amendment: to leave work, and to not partake in any usual daily duties they perform such as housework.
While undoubtedly Dublin protests drew the largest crowd, with thousands gathering in the capital, Galway Pro-Choice were very happy with how the day unfolded Corribside.
“We are delighted at how the Strike4Repeal Galway event went,” Jenni Owen-Thomas of the organisation told SIN.
“The turnout far exceeded our expectations and we feel it really shows that change is happening. We need to keep up the momentum now, get out and keep talking about what Repeal really means. As we learned yesterday, this is far more than an abortion issue.”
Some students of NUI Galway participated in a walk-out at 12 noon as part of the strike.
USI President Annie Hoey was on campus on the day and with current Students’ Union Education Officer Cathal Sherlock organised the students of NUI Galway for a march into town, practising chants such as ‘Get your rosaries off my ovaries’ and ‘1, 2, 3, 4, the 8th Amendment has to go, 2, 4, 6, 8, time to Repeal the 8th’ outside the Concourse.
Campaigners and supporters were predominately dressed in black, as requested by Strike4Repeal organisers, in solidarity with an average of 9 Irish women a day who travel abroad for abortion (figure for 2016, according to The Journal.ie), and many held colourful signs calling for repeal.
Protestors marched from the campus to Eyres Square where a rally was held to highlight the motives behind the movement.
Three speeches were made at the rally, Owen-Thomas, mother of two receiving great applause for her speech as a Parent for Choice.
“There is a certain perception out there that those who are pro-choice must not be a parent or are even anti-children … that mothers, having carried their baby and brought them into the world should expect every woman to do the same,” she said.
“Over 54% of women who need access to abortion already have one child,” she continued.
“The amount of women in their thirties that have abortions is on the rise – these are not the ‘feckless’ young women people would have you believe! These are people who are making the best decision for themselves and their living, breathing children.”
The rally was followed by a march towards the Spanish Arch where a large banner bearing the word ‘REPEAL’ was hung from the arch.
The protest was not met with any counter protests on the day.
-By Sorcha O’Connor
Featured Image: Jack O’Donovan