We had a chat with Aoife Frances of #strike4repeal to see what it’s all about.
We saw you put a call out for a strike in Ireland, what is your demand?
We are demanding that the government give us a date for a referendum on repealing the 8th amendment. The state’s talking shop on this issue, coming on 34 years since the constitutional change, is dangerous and cowardly. The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013 just criminalised abortion further under the guise of a totally inaccessible ‘legal route’ which, given the case of Ms. Y, would be pretty ill-advisable for anyone to pursue. It seems the government is happy to wait around, delay and bow down to a minority wing of anti-choice zealots; we are not.
There seems to be calls for a strike in Argentina, Italy and now Ireland. What motivates this?
I think communities around the globe continue to grow furious with the rise of conservative and right wing push-backs and refusals to progress egalitarian politics on a range of issues, including reproductive rights. The specific call to remove our labour is particularly powerful because it mirrors the physical embodiment of what our body’s experience – work, sex, reproduction, violence – and it makes a direct intervention into capitalism. I think the rise of social media and ‘citizen journalism’ also helps movements feel connected and borrow ideas and strategies from all over the world.
What has the response been to the call so far?
The response has far surpassed what we were expecting, three days in the facebook page has over 7,000 ‘likes’ and the video over 300,000 views. Media wise, most Irish online platforms have carried it and internationally the Huffington Post, Independent UK, Polish mainstream media and Time Magazine have written about it too, which is incredible. I suppose you feel after so many years that maybe people are jaded about the issue but the opposite is true; people are pissed off and willing to take further steps to force the state into responding.
What would you say to those who are trying to put the brakes on the movement and wait for the Citizens Assembly?
The reality is that the Citizen’s Assembly has no real precedence; the government is under no obligation to take on their recommendations or for any further actions. I mean, they didn’t change the law when the UN Human Rights Committee told them to, so why would they suddenly sit up and listen to a group of 99 people saying the same? Thousands of us have been saying it for decades! It is a farcical theatre of delay to be honest, if you want consensus on the issue ask everyone in the country; have a referendum.
Are there set plans for the day already laid out or are people coming to you with their own ideas?
We are in the process of working with groups to organize actions, and we have a volunteer meeting next Thursday the 2nd to bring in as many people and their ideas as possible. The best thing about this kind of action is that people can work creatively in their own regions and networks to participate and take action in their own ways which we are really encouraging.