Activist Eileen Flynn’s rally cry to the thousands of women & men who came out on International Women’s Day to support Repeal the 8th. This woman could very well be the Joan of Arc of our generation, not only because she speaks energetically with compassion and pride but also because I think she might be carrying a sword on her at all times.
Eileen speaks to the crowd about standing up for our rights, she says she wasn’t always a ‘feminist’ because she didn’t know what the label meant, but now she knows what it means and now she’s here to fight for it. Eileen’s understanding of labels comes across very clearly, she speaks about the ‘us’ Vs ‘them’ attitudes which prevent us from working together to achieve the equality we all deserve, it’s not about being male or female, it’s about what’s right and wrong and the actions we take to create a society where people have the right to full bodily autonomy and equality for all.
Eileen challenged the real values of ‘Pro-lifers’;
“If you’re pro-life how come you’re not out there helping the homeless, how come you’re not improving the lives of the 3,000 homeless children in this country”
Her words hold such integrity that I’m proud to have been here to march with her today. For Eileen it’s not about what banner you march under but what you’re marching for. I’ve no doubt in my mind that if she was organising this march herself that it would have taken a slightly different direction.
Instead of concluding with a planned protest outside the Dail this organised march, a march for access to dignified health services, took a detour to the Customs House. I’m not sure why this decision was taken but I’m quite concerned that the Repeal movement is not getting the political support it needs two months away from the referendum. The repeal movement might have grass roots beginnings but it needs to recognise the need to progress if it’s to fulfil its destiny. Unfortunately there were more SIPTU flags at the march than SIPTU members. Where were all the nurses? Where were all the midwives? One speaker from Doctors for Choice spoke but why don’t we hear more from the medical professions on RTE?
International women’s day had an opportunity to be remembered for taking on this fight but it probably lacked the numbers and pikes necessary to get to the Dail. This doesn’t make Repeal the 8th a lost cause but it does make knocking on doors a lot tougher. The march highlighted all the work that needs to be done in the next two months and I hope everyone finds the kind of energy Eileen Flynn showed in order to dig in and make Repeal The 8th happen in 2018.