Dear Britain. . .



Protesters at a pro-choice rally in Dublin last year

Una Mullally, in The Guardian, writes:

The movement to repeal the 8th is growing, especially since the equal marriage referendum last year inspired a generation of young Irish people. In the days after that referendum, the question that Irish people hear repeatedly from abroad was raised: how can Ireland have gay marriage and not abortion? It’s one that can only be answered by acknowledging that misogyny in Ireland runs even deeper than homophobia.

What the equal marriage referendum taught us was that change comes from the bottom up. And we don’t just need one voice advocating for change, but many. The recent March for Choice in Dublin was replicated in cities around the world, with tens of thousands of people turning out to demand reproductive rights.

…Women are now telling their abortion stories in great numbers for the first time, and as we learned during the equal marriage referendum campaign, you can’t beat real-life experiences with abstract arguments.

Successive Irish governments haven’t listened to their female citizens. But what Irish governments really dislike is being embarrassed from abroad. As a nation, we are insecure, obsessed with our identity and what people think of us. So if politicians don’t have the guts to tackle this issue then they need to be shamed into action.

Solidarity matters because the extended hand often feels so much warmer than your own. The idea that people you don’t even know care about you is important. It bolsters you. And while solidarity from outside Ireland exists in pockets, we now need it from Britain en masse.

British people need to stomp on the streets and on the floors of parliament to help shame our government. British people should especially demand that women in Northern Ireland have the same reproductive rights as in England, Scotland, and Wales, and that those rights be extended to women on the Isle of Man too.

A strip of sea separates us, but we are just like you. We watch EastEnders, shop in Topshop, cry at Bake Off and drink gin. Your football teams are our football teams. We don’t earn enough and are sick of the rain. We are not “other”.

Irish women need British help to change our abortion laws (The Guardian)

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87 thoughts on “Dear Britain. . .

  1. ReproBertie

    Speak for yourself Una. I don’t watch Eastenders, shop in Top Shop, cry at Bake Off, drink gin or support an English football team.

    Nor do I care what the people of Britain chose to protest about. In fact I seem to remember we had a couple of wars to try and stop British interference in our politics.

    1. Mayav

      Plenty of Irish people do all you mention there. You seem to be implying that because *you* don’t, Mullaly shouldn’t generalise about Irish people. Aren’t you doing the same thing?

      1. ReproBertie

        No, I’m telling Una she doesn’t speak for me and, unlike Una, I’m not claiming to speak for the people of Ireland when I say it.

        1. Mayav

          She didn’t say literally every Irish person does all that. I have no idea why you took such an innocuous line so personally.

    2. OhRowShayDoVahaWaile

      What about “Irish” products by English producers such as Diageo? Do you consume those? English fellas who play for the Ireland team? Spit at them do you? You sound like a bit of a misogynist donkey.

  2. Neilo

    @Repro: while I understand Una’s passion for her view, I agree that Britain has no role to play in this matter.

    1. ReproBertie

      Somehow I don’t imagine the decisive moment of the referendum campaign being when someone on Eastenders wears a Repeal badge.

      1. Dόn Pídgéόní

        No but it might be if the UK government forces NI to provide abortion services widely, adding pressure to Ireland. Or if feminist groups in the UK starting campaigning more widely on this issue too. The last paragraph wasn’t the main point.

        1. Neilo

          The mainland won’t touch the NI with a bargepole on this one, Don. Far too fraught an issue with a substantial chunk of the populace.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Pressure is what got you this citizens committee. You won’t have a vote for what, another year at least?

          2. ReproBertie

            Yes, it will take time as the Citizens Assembly is just a delay tactic but we will get a vote at the end of it. Adding pressure won’t make the government give up their shield of impotence. The assembly allows them to say to the die hard pro-lifers that the decision to have a vote was out of their hands.

          3. Dόn Pídgéόní

            NI needs pressure too, pressure will keep the momentum up and make sure the delay tactics are minimal.

      2. OhRowShayDoVahaWaile

        You’re completely right. Political change is always affected by single sweeping gestures on popular soap opera as opposed to incrementally by osmosis and influencing among multiple communication media

    2. Jess

      Britain has a major role in this matter as they are the ones supplying the service that our citizens require.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            I would suspect Irish women may find this more difficult once Brexit is put through and the necessary cuts to the NHS start

  3. broadbag

    She is an abysmally poor writer, while I agree with most of the causes she advocates for she really does them no favours with her reductionist drivel.

    “We watch EastEnders, shop in Topshop, cry at Bake Off and drink gin. Your football teams are our football teams. We don’t earn enough and are sick of the rain. We are not “other”.”

    Just awful nonsense! Who ever said we are ‘other’? Fighting an argument that doesn’t exist, good on ya Una!

  4. scottser

    you’d think now that she’d allow the citizen’s assembly to do their work over the next few years. then we can vote on a nice, safe, diluted version of whatever they have in other jurisdictions and sure, won’t that keep una in a job moaning for a while?

  5. gallantman

    Her point seems to be that we won’t do this for ourselves but if we think our former overlords are sneering at us we’ll do it. Beyond bonkers!

    1. Mayav

      You have completely misunderstood her writing. She’s talking about our government, not our society. Our government are right wing and are clearly of a mind that they know better. There is a strong disconnect between society and government here. They will not listen to us. They do not respect us. However, if a nation like Britain were to talk about Ireland on an international stage and make us look outdated, our government might be embarrassed into action. Any student of Irish history knows that our “former overlords” granted us home rule because of international pressure, especially from America. They could have crushed the independence movement if they really wanted to.

      1. gallantman

        Besides the point but you may find Irish Independence was in fact fought for and hard-won following a three year guerilla war which our ‘overlords’ made every attempt to crush but couldn’t.

      2. Vote Rep #1

        “There is a strong disconnect between society and government here.”

        Don’t think so. Not everyone lives in urban areas. Quite a lot of people live outside of the few big cities on the this island and think a lot more conservatively. While the polls do show the majority want the 8th gone, when pushed on what they actually want, its not that much better than what we already have. Just slightly relaxed rules.

        After all is done, if you want an abortion you’re still probably going to have to go to England.

      3. torturedgardener

        “Our government are right wing”

        Have you had a look who’s in power in England at the moment?

        1. Mayav

          I should think her piece is aimed at individuals rather than the government. I would say she’s hoping someone like, for instance, JK Rowling would tweet about it as opposed to May ringing Enda.

  6. Christopher

    How is Una still working in the media? Isn’t it well for her that misogyny and homophobia exist or she wouldn’t have anything to write about.

    1. bisted

      …writing for the Irish Times and the Guardian…being a contrarian journalist seems to even beat being a religious as a career move…

  7. Harry Molloy

    ah ffs…

    I like a lot of what she writes but that first piece in bold is just lazy and narrow minded.

    She has a great knack for annoying people!

    1. Dόn Pídgéόní

      The knashing of teeth under these articles is great. At least we aren’t pandering to bodgers Wikileaks love in.

  8. Cormac

    I’m not sure the pro-choice movement is actually being heard everywhere in Ireland so would it not make sense to start in Ireland before you try and get support in the UK?
    Sure the message is out there and is coming from many voices but is it nationwide?
    Is it in the pubs in Limerick? Is it repeal a topic of conversation in Donegal ?
    I’m actually asking is the repeal message nationwide currently?


    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      We culchies speak about it among ourselves. It’s not all daily mass and outside toilets beyond the Pale, you know.

      1. Daisy Chainsaw

        Sure a pub was where they invented Youth Defence and had their initial meetings. If it’s good enough for the antichoice gestapo…

  9. Boy M5

    Una Mullally and the rest of the Irish journo/columnist arts media set centred around each other’s book launches and mutual backslapping (public twitter spats but besties in private) give me a pain in the hoop.

    They jump on whatever bandwagon is passing, usually around gender rights, repeal, feminism, depression, cancer, blah blah blah and all they’re doing is using these issues to feed their careers.

    They almost never ever talk about poverty, homelessness, social inequality or even women in poverty. No, because those are ewww and don’t offer wine and cheese receptions and it might mean going to run down council estates or places like Ronanstown or Darndale and that’s just not their style.

    No, this crowd prefer the fun issues with a social life and going on the piss afterwards attached.

  10. newsjustin

    “how can Ireland have gay marriage and not abortion?”

    Almost like they’re two different things Una. That in itself is anti-equality.

    1. scottser

      sure, don’t the germans own our money and tell us what we can spend it on? and the americans, sure we’d give them a tax break and an airport for their air force for a smile. and the Israelis? well feel free to use our passports there.
      what are laws for, if only for the elites and their mates to ignore?

  11. Listrade

    Though Una does provide the link back to NI and the legality of abortion there. That’d be UK citizens demonstrating about UK issues. But it’d mean have to read the article.

    What is to be lost by people who sympathise with Irish women taking to the streets? We’ve done it and do it in sympathy with plights and injustice in other states.

    Sympathy does not mean interference. I’m not sure independence from Britain extends to asking their citizens to show support.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      Four thousand Irish abortions a year still exported so the hypocrites can say there’s no abortion in Ireland

      1. newsjustin

        It’s not hypocritical to seek to change (or retain) the law in the country one resides in. You’ll find most prolife people are concerned about abortion in other jurisdictions to. Perhaps that’s why we hear of all these big, bad American people taking an interest in abortion in Ireland. The abortion providers like to take an interest to… markets and whatnot.

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          It’s not long since anti-choice websites changed their currency of choice from dollars. Do they still tell porkies about appearing on EWTN?

          1. Daisy Chainsaw

            Well you started about American interference. The antichoice campaign has been run on interfering American money for years… Probably why they don’t engage with SIPO and publish accounts.

  12. Frilly Keane

    Dear Una

    That crying at Bake off might have sum’ting t’do with the gin

    And you must have a very simple mentality if EastEnders is under your watchful eye

    And as for the Foreign Game, when you can write like Russell Brand about it, then you get to talk about it without looking like a wag

    In the meantime, less of the “we are just like you”

    Le do thoil

    BTW, if you’re all that, do a pudding interview for us

    1. Mayav

      ‘Hey Una, you’re simple minded, you’re not articulate enough to talk about football and you’re full of yourself. How about an interview?’ I’m sure she’d be delighted to meet such a polite request.

      1. OhRowShayDoVahaWaile

        Haha the cut of this failed scribbler dribbling on about some other contrarian reactionary

  13. EightersGonnaEight

    Why doesn’t Ms Mullally declare that she’s a paid Irish Times columnist anywhere on the article?

        1. Mayav

          So should she also declare her hair colour and preferred breakfast cereal? In the name of transparency?

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