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'We watched Ireland rip off one of the chains that tied us to the country that succeeded in shutting women up'

Saturday brought an end to the idea that Irish people are conservative.

Source: Rolling News

IF YOU HAD told me 5 years ago that we would repeal the 8th Amendment, I would have called you crazy. But according to RTÉ’s exit poll,76% of voters had not changed their position on the 8th Amendment on 5 years on both sides which suggests we could have had this referendum earlier and saved countless people suffering.

Then again, the Irish government is not known for it’s tendency to do things promptly. They’re pretty big fans of dragging things out for as long as possible.

That being said, politicians such as Simon Harris and Kate O’Connell did stellar work on this campaign. It is Clare Daly though who deserves endless plaudits because she has been there since the start, making damn sure that was issue that needed to be addressed. She should have been listened to much earlier.

Source: Rolling News

On Saturday we witnessed something incredible. We watched Ireland rip off one of the last remaining chains that tied us to the country that actively tried and succeeded in shutting women up rather than listening to them in their hour of need.

For decades we have been a country that withered in the shadow of an unforgiving Church who was determined to make Ireland fit to its ideal image. Rather than bend to our character, the Church made us bend to theirs and punished us for decades for the slightest infraction.

They called it sin when really it was humans being humans. Sex is evil except on our terms, you can’t be trusted with anything including your own child. We know best so do not question our judgement.

We couldn’t have contraception, tampons were evil and god forbid we spoke out. We were supposed to know our place and that was it. A woman should be seen and not heard. Look pretty for your husband and be silent for him too. He’s your only chance of salvation.

When we were deemed to have desecrated our bodies by becoming pregnant, we had to be churched before being allowed back into the sacred circle of Mass. When we got pregnant out of wedlock, we were tossed into Magdalaene laundries without a second thought. Out of sight, out of mind, out of harm. It was always easier to lock us away than address our issues.

Ireland has been punishing its women for decades and it turns out as a society, we were really gifted at pretending it wasn’t happening. When we protested we were written off, undermined and called ‘shrill’ and ‘obstreperous’ because we were disrupting the status quo.

Source: Rolling News

It’s still happening now with 18 women dying needlessly in the Cervical Check scandal, the Belfast trial, the abduction and murder of Jastine Valquez. There are countless examples, too many to name but each one as depressing as the next.

Ireland has always claimed to be a safe place for women and yet time and again we’ve been let down because it’s easier to look away then face what’s happening to us. Our pain isn’t real pain until we fit a certain narrative. Put up, shut up and get on with it. Irish women were always good at that.

The campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment was led by women who suffered through that stigma and came out the other side determined to change their country for the better.

Source: Rolling News

People like Tara Flynn and Ailbhe Smyth who time and again have broken their hearts, their backs and their spirits in an attempt to make Ireland a better place than the Ireland that they grew up in and suffered under. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid.

On Saturday, the Irish people ripped off the mask of ‘Middle Ireland’ and proved it was a false idol that only the establishment prayed to. We proved that we don’t need to be condescended or preached to. We’re a compassionate and caring people who can smell bullshit a mile away. We proved ourselves as a force that politicians need to catch up with rather than push back.

As Emmet Kirwan wrote in his piece ‘Heartbreak’ ‘Stand in awe of all mná’. We’re an unstoppable force and we won’t stop until we are fully equal citizens in this country we call home.

The 8th Amendment is only the beginning.

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About the author:

Rachel O'Neill

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