People Before Profit warmly welcomes the historic vote of the Irish people on 25 May to repeal the 8th Amendment.
We believe it marks a decisive and final break with Ireland’s dark past when women were treated as second class citizens and often with terrible cruelty and oppression, and the birth of a better Ireland of freedom and real equality.
In particular, we salute the mass grassroots campaign of many thousands of activists and canvassers who took to the streets throughout the referendum campaign. We believe they played a decisive role in securing such a massive Vote for YES right across the country.
People Before Profit TD and long standing choice activist Bríd Smith said:
“The huge turnout on the canvasses was crucial not only in persuading people individually on the doorsteps but also in demonstrating to our communities that this was a mass social movement and giving people the confidence to come out and vote YES.
“This was especially important after the debacle of The Claire Byrne Live Show when the NO side seemed for a moment to have the initiative. The response of the activists and canvassers turned the tide and from then on the mood shifted. This was yet another victory for People Power.”
We in People Before Profit were also pleased to see from the exit polls that the main reason given by people for voting yes was ‘a woman’s right to choose’. We have always believed and argued that emphasising CHOICE was both popular and right on principle.
We would insist that a woman’s right to choose is not just the right to have an abortion but also the right to be able to have a child and care for it properly; it involves a right to proper housing, to a reasonable wage, to decent housing and health care and all these are rights that will have to be fought for going forward.
People Before Profit also calls for the speediest possible introduction of legislation because even as we speak there will be women facing crisis pregnancies and contemplating the lonely journey to the airport. Moreover, we believe we must build on this great vote to advance further the agenda of women’s equality across our society. That means working to separate church and state, to end Church control of the mass of our schools and to establish full and objective sex education, not tied to anyone religious ethos.
Bríd Smith also emphasizes the need to link up with activists in the North to win Marriage Equality and choice for the LGBTQ people and women of Northern Ireland. She said: “I urge activists to support the Alliance for Choice Rally in Belfast on 10 June.”
Finally People Before Profit notes with pride the international significance of this wonderful vote for women’s rights around the world. At a time when women’s hard won abortion rights are under attack by the conservative extreme right in many countries, we hope this will serve as a beacon of hope for women globally.