At what point does playing the waiting game become a futile exercise? Six months? A year? How about 34 years?
To add context to the question – at what point does waiting patiently for a grotesque constitutional amendment to be repealed become a futile exercise?
We have now entered Year 34 of the 8th amendment. 12 women and pregnant people a day, every day, since its introduction in 1983, have faced the economic, psychological and physical burden of being forced abroad to access safe reproductive healthcare; many more besides have gone underground at home, and endured the risk of being brandished a criminal for doing so.
Our politicians have talked relentlessly about the need for ‘considered reflection’ on the right to choice – something which is now manifesting itself in the Citizens’ Assembly. The stark reality, though, is that while the Assembly makes its deliberations, the isolating, expensive burden of traveling abroad or going underground continues. As long as the deliberating continues, so too does the number of those forced abroad or underground grow.
So, if our fence sitting Government’s idea of progress is to stall the issue under the banner of a Citizens’ Assembly, how does the manifestation of those who are fed up of waiting look?
That answer, as of this morning, is a little clearer.
Strike4Repeal, in its own words, is “an ad-hoc, non-affiliated group of activists, academics, artists and trade unionists preparing a nationwide Strike for Repeal on the 8th of March 2017.” Its demand is that the Irish Government calls a referendum on the repeal of the 8th amendment no later than the 8th of March – otherwise, it warns, Ireland will strike.
In this morning’s introductory press release, spokespeople Avril Corroon and Aoife Frances add that “we share the concern of many pro-choice groups that the Citizens’ Assembly is no more than a hollow pretence of progress” and “we call upon the Government to take direct responsibility for what is a violation of human rights. We believe a national strike is not only possible, but an incredible opportunity to show the sheer power of our movement, and to put pressure on the Government to call a referendum.”
The tireless outreach work of the Strike4Repeal organising group has secured the support of a number of major pro-choice and human rights organisations including the Abortion Rights Campaign, the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, AIMS Ireland, Women on Web, Anti Racism Network Ireland, MASI, the Sex Workers’ Alliance Ireland and many more besides. In a little over 12 hours since launch, the interest and enthusiasm has been extraordinary – 1,000 Facebook likes, major media coverage and an outpouring of public solidarity.
The demand is simple – no more delay tactics. No more political cowardice. The Government’s job is to facilitate the best interests of its people. In that vein; call a referendum on Repeal before March 8th or the strike will happen, and it will be significant. Do not underestimate just how empowered and energised people right across Ireland are about this issue. Their tolerance is running out. Strike4Repeal exists to demonstrate that.