Rally 4 Choice successfully sees off annual anti-choice parade

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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:4:{s:4:\"head\";s:0:\"\";s:3:\"css\";a:0:{}s:2:\"js\";a:0:{}s:6:\"output\";s:2132:\"<div class=\"view view-audio view-id-audio view-display-id-block_1 view-dom-id-2\">\n \n \n \n <div class=\"view-content\">\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/content/audio-cop15-protests-and-arrests-copenhagen\">COP15 the protests and the arrests in Copenhagen</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-2 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/exploring-lessons-1913-lockout-legacy-anarchism\" title=\"Exploring the Lessons of the 1913 Lockout and its Legacy for Today - DABF 2013\">Exploring the Lessons of the 1913 Lockout and its...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/life-politics-women-speak-dabf2012\">My Life in Politics: Women Speak - DABF2012 Audio</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-4 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/being-anarchist-audio-dabf2012\">Being an anarchist - audio from DABF 2012</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/anarchism-politics-climate-change\" title=\"Thinking About Anarchism: The Politics of Climate Change\">Thinking About Anarchism: The Politics of Climate...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-6 views-row-even views-row-last\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/property-water-taxes-fight-win-dabf-2013\" title=\"Fighting the Property &amp; Water Taxes - how to fight and win - DABF 2013\">Fighting the Property &amp; Water Taxes - how to...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n </div>\n \n \n \n \n<div class=\"more-link\">\n <a href=\"/anarchism/audio\">\n more </a>\n</div>\n \n \n \n</div> \";}', created = 1503131774, expire = 1503132074, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'audio:block_1:output:ad0c3f8b3b048afdb671f8ca805920e8' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:3:{s:6:\"result\";a:6:{i:0;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8499\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:46:\"Elections: Shouldn\'t We \'Fight on All Fronts\'?\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:1445:\"<div data-contents=\"true\">\r\n <div data-block=\"true\" data-editor=\"c9jab\" data-offset-key=\"cfk4-0-0\">\r\n <div class=\"_1mf _1mj\" data-offset-key=\"cfk4-0-0\">\r\n <span data-offset-key=\"cfk4-0-0\"><span data-text=\"true\">Anarchists are in favour of grassroots organising rather than engaging in electioneering. <span data-offset-key=\"cfk4-0-0\"><span data-text=\"true\"><em><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/strike.png\" style=\"width: 400px; height: 321px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 3px; float: right;\" /></em></span></span>Some crticise this position, stating something along the lines of:<br />\r\n <br />\r\n &#39;<em>But what about social housing, free education, and an increased minimum wage? That&#39;s change which will make a big difference to people&#39;s lives. And electoralism and grassroots organising aren&#39;t mutually exclusive. We shouldn&#39;t concede that ground to the right, we should fight on all fronts&#39;.</em></span></span><br />\r\n <br />\r\n <span data-offset-key=\"cfk4-0-0\"><span data-text=\"true\">Social housing, free education, increased minimum wage - there are worthwhile reforms which might be achieved by a left wing government, or might not, but they&#39;re fairly beside the point. It&#39;s worth remarking though that the best way even to achieve reforms through the state is by having strong social movements which can apply pressure to politicians.</span></span></div>\r\n </div>\r\n</div>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1497286800\";}i:1;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8470\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:73:\"WSM Points of Unity Explained: 1 - Class Struggle and Leadership of Ideas\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:778:\"<p><em>&#39;1. Anarchism will be created by the class struggle between the vast majority of society (the working class) and the tiny minority that currently rule. A successful revolution will require that anarchist ideas become the leading ideas within the working class. This will not happen spontaneously. Our role is to make anarchist ideas the leading ideas or, as it is sometimes expressed, to become a &#39;&#39;leadership of ideas&#39;&#39;.&rsquo;</em></p>\r\n<p>We&#39;re usually told that class society is a thing of the past. After all, aren&#39;t we all middle class now? But this is false, and there still very much exists a severe division between people based on property and work, a hierarchy which is a basic fact of the economic system known as capitalism.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1491552000\";}i:2;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8471\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:51:\"WSM Points of Unity Explained: 2 - Power Structures\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:560:\"<p><em>&#39;2. We reject the idea that society can be changed through &#39;good people&#39; gaining control of the power structures. This means we reject both the electoral strategy of the social democratic and green parties and the &#39;revolutionary&#39; strategy of the various left groups.&#39;</em></p>\r\n<p>The WSM is working towards a free, equal, democratic society. We believe the only way to achieve this is by people taking their destinies into their own hands, forming grassroots mass movements, and creating new truly democratic institutions.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1491552000\";}i:3;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8472\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:50:\"WSM Points of Unity Explained: 3 - Platformism (1)\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:495:\"<p><em>&#39;3. We identify ourselves as anarchists and with the &quot;platformist&quot;, anarchist-communist or especifista tradition of anarchism. We broadly identify with the theoretical base of this tradition and the organisational practice it argues for, but not necessarily everything else it has done or said, so it is a starting point for our politics and not an end point.&rsquo;</em></p>\r\n<p>The WSM practices a form of anarchism which strives to be highly organised and coherent.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1491552000\";}i:4;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8473\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:50:\"WSM Points of Unity Explained: 4 - Platformism (2)\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:1238:\"<p>&#39;<em>4. The core ideas of this tradition that we identify with are the need for anarchist political organisations that seek to develop:</em></p>\r\n<ol>\r\n <li>\r\n <em>Theoretical Unity</em></li>\r\n <li>\r\n <em>Tactical Unity&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </em></li>\r\n <li>\r\n <em>Collective Action and Discipline&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </em></li>\r\n <li>\r\n <em>Federalism&rsquo;</em></li>\r\n</ol>\r\n<p>Federalism is an organisational structure based on &ldquo;the free agreement of individuals and organisations to work collectively towards a common objective&rdquo;. It is finding the best balance between independence and coherence. All decisions are made by those affected by them as opposed to centralism, where decisions are made by a central committee for those affected by them. This means, for example, that while all WSM branches are united under a common national policy, they are also autonomous, i.e they can make their own local decisions. It also means that we have no leaders or officials with higher authority than others. Rather, we have &#39;officers&#39; who are delegated temporary authority to perform certain tasks as mandated by the membership (for instance, to be treasurer).</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1491552000\";}i:5;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8474\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:57:\"WSM Points of Unity Explained: 6 - (Other) Mass Movements\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:1309:\"<p><em>&#39;6. We also see it as vital to work in struggles that happen outside the unions and the workplace. These include struggles against particular oppressions, imperialism and indeed the struggles of the working class for a decent place and environment in which to live. Our general approach to these, like our approach to the unions, is to involve ourselves with mass movements and within these movements, in order to promote anarchist methods of organisation involving direct democracy and direct action.&#39;</em></p>\r\n<p>While the workplace is of course a critical site of political activity, there is a much broader terrain on which to strive for our liberty. Ultimately, we want a world where people are free and content. So, everywhere that we are ripped off, suppressed, attacked, sidelined, or degraded, is a place for us to fight back and band together with others. In a social order which thrives on us keeping our heads down and being passive, resistance in its many forms is to be encouraged and supported. Whether or not that resistance is as radical or as &#39;pure&#39; as we&#39;d like we should engage, of course with our anarchist heads screwed on. While being a purist sect on the sidelines can feel satisfying to the initiated, ultimately it is a redundant way to make change.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1491552000\";}}s:10:\"total_rows\";i:1539;s:5:\"pager\";a:5:{s:9:\"use_pager\";s:1:\"0\";s:14:\"items_per_page\";i:6;s:7:\"element\";i:0;s:6:\"offset\";i:0;s:12:\"current_page\";i:0;}}', created = 1503131774, expire = 1503132074, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'wsm_only:block_1:results:692e0a14e0b7ab966d18830fa49232e2' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:4:{s:4:\"head\";s:0:\"\";s:3:\"css\";a:0:{}s:2:\"js\";a:0:{}s:6:\"output\";s:3309:\"<div class=\"view view-wsm-only view-id-wsm_only view-display-id-block_1 view-dom-id-4\">\n \n \n \n <div class=\"view-content\">\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/elections-shouldnt-we-fight-all-fronts\" title=\"Elections: Shouldn&#039;t We &#039;Fight on All Fronts&#039;?\">Elections: Shouldn&#039;t We &#039;Fight on All Fronts...</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">\n\n\n Anarchists are in favour of grassroots organising rather than engaging in...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-2 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/wsm-point-unity-1-class-struggle-leadership-ideas-anarchism\" title=\"WSM Points of Unity Explained: 1 - Class Struggle and Leadership of Ideas\">WSM Points of Unity Explained: 1 - Class Struggle and...</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">&#39;1. Anarchism will be created by the class struggle between the vast majority of...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/wsm-point-unity-2-power-structures-state-anarchism\">WSM Points of Unity Explained: 2 - Power Structures</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">&#39;2. We reject the idea that society can be changed through &#39;good people&#39;...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-4 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/wsm-point-unity-3-platformism-1-especifismo-anarchism\">WSM Points of Unity Explained: 3 - Platformism (1)</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">&#39;3. We identify ourselves as anarchists and with the &quot;platformist&quot;,...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/wsm-point-unity-4-platformism-2-especifismo-anarchism\">WSM Points of Unity Explained: 4 - Platformism (2)</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">&#39;4. The core ideas of this tradition that we identify with are the need for...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-6 views-row-even views-row-last\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/wsm-point-unity-6-mass-movements-resistance-anarchism\" title=\"WSM Points of Unity Explained: 6 - (Other) Mass Movements\">WSM Points of Unity Explained: 6 - (Other) Mass...</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">&#39;6. We also see it as vital to work in struggles that happen outside the unions and...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n </div>\n \n \n \n \n<div class=\"more-link\">\n <a href=\"/all\">\n more </a>\n</div>\n \n \n \n</div> \";}', created = 1503131774, expire = 1503132074, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'wsm_only:block_1:output:1b6bdc458dfffb7fd6fd165c992f4d81' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:3:{s:6:\"result\";a:6:{i:0;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8496\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:78:\"An Anarchist Response to “Anarchists, It Is Our Duty To Vote In Elections”\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:1313:\"<p dir=\"ltr\" style=\"line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;\"><span style=\"background-color: transparent; text-align: justify; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;\">As the title suggests, this article has been written in response to this <a href=\"https://troubleandsqueak.com/2015/04/25/anarchists-it-is-our-duty-to-vote-in-elections/\">article</a> </span><span style=\"background-color: transparent; text-align: justify; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;\">which was written over two years ago just before the last UK General Election and as Hillary Clinton was beginning her campaign for US presidency. Coming from my own knowledge and beliefs on voting I was surprised when reading fellow anarchist Paddy Vipond&rsquo;s article that he omitted major anarchist arguments against voting. In addition to serving as a response to Vipond&rsquo;s piece I will discuss what he left out under his headings and address some issues that have become apparent during this current election campaign particularly with the hope that Corbyn&rsquo;s Labour has sparked among the UK electorate and indeed further than that among the international electoralist left.</span></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1497358019\";}i:1;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8488\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:58:\"Yes Duplicity: Irish State, Give Queer Chechens Asylum Now\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:702:\"<p>Will the Irish state offer asylum to queer men in Chechnya (and, in fact, all queer people there) who are enduring a state-lead cam<img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/chechnya100%20asylum.jpg\" style=\"width: 400px; height: 251px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />paign of terror and persecution of the gravest nature, or are queer people&#39;s lives another vote-catcher?</p>\r\n<p><br />\r\n We described both what is happening in Chechnya and the Dublin counter-demo <a href=\"http://www.wsm.ie/c/dublin-protests-chechnyas-queer-concentration-camps\">in detail here</a>, as well as warning against these atrocities being seized upon for an anti-Muslim agenda.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1493712000\";}i:2;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8450\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:47:\"An account of how #Strike4Repeal went in Dublin\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:547:\"<p>Andrew spent the day of March 8th 2017 recording #Strike4Repeal and has edited this 20 minute video account of how the day went down in Dublin. &nbsp;Below you will also find a &nbsp;text transcript of his account.</p>\r\n<p><iframe allowfullscreen=\"\" frameborder=\"0\" height=\"315\" src=\"https://www.youtube.com/embed/uwINNvCclew?rel=0\" width=\"560\"></iframe></p>\r\n<p>I headed into Dublin early on #Strike4Repeal day because a little birds had told me of&nbsp;the plan to cover up and alter some of Dublin&rsquo;s statues in the early morning.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1490711109\";}i:3;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8448\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:34:\"Intersectionality - A Basic Primer\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:1074:\"<p>The WSM&rsquo;s politics are fundamentally intersectional. &lsquo;Intersectionality&rsquo; is a fancy word for some rather basic ideas. You can think of it as &lsquo;overlap-ism&rsquo; instead. There are three main points, <strong>1)</strong> that each person needs to be seen as a whole, <strong>2)</strong> that no power system exists in isolation, and <strong>3)</strong> that all forms of oppression and exploitation should be uprooted at the same time.</p>\r\n<p align=\"center\"><img alt=\"\" height=\"312\" src=\"/sites/default/files/intersections.PNG\" style=\"border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 3px; float: right;\" width=\"500\" /></p>\r\n<p>The first point refers to the fact that real people aren&rsquo;t cartoons. We are each complicated and multi-dimensional. For instance, a person is not just &lsquo;working class&rsquo;. They also have a gender. In general, life for a working class woman will be significantly different than for a working class man, not only because a woman is oppressed by sexism but because class itself is experienced differently.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1490482800\";}i:4;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8435\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:87:\"Hitting Tesco where it hurts: Strike sees sales fall more than 80% leading to back down\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:1393:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/TescoPowerOfStrike.jpg\" style=\"width: 400px; height: 402px; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />Tesco agreed Friday to suspend its attempt to impose a worsening of pay and conditions on its long term workers and to return to the Labour Court, leading to the suspension of the strike.&nbsp; Monday&rsquo;s Irish Times carries a report on just how hard Tesco have been hit by the strike action, the Finglas superstore saw a massive 80% decline in takings.&nbsp; These leaked figures stand in stark contrast to the attempt by Tesco PR to suggest the strike was ineffective and unpopular.</p>\r\n<p>The figures reveal that even those stores which had not yet voted to strike, and which subsequently did not have pickets, saw a decline of 30% in sales.&nbsp; According to <a href=\"http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/tesco-sales-fell-significantly-in-picketed-stores-during-strike\">Conor Pope&rsquo;s report</a> in Tesco Clearwater on the Monday before the strike <em>&ldquo;sales were &euro;165,901, while a week later they were under &euro;35,000, a drop of &euro;130,916 or nearly 80 per cent&rdquo;</em> and <em>&ldquo;The fall between the two Mondays across 29 stores of all sizes totalled &euro;827,896. .. A daily loss of that scale would suggest the cumulative impact of the 11-day strike came close to &euro;50 million&rdquo;&nbsp;</em></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1488278536\";}i:5;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8429\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:96:\"A critical look at the Women’s March on Washington and coverage from Dublin solidarity protest\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:482:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/WomensMarchDublin.jpg\" style=\"width: 400px; height: 405px; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />Saturday 21st January saw 1000s take part in a Women&#39;s March against Trump in Dublin, a local solidarity march with the Women&#39;s March on Washington. It&#39;s estimated that 1% of the US population took to the streets to protest the Trump presidency that day with solidarity protests in dozens of cities around the world including Belfast.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1486462807\";}}s:10:\"total_rows\";i:727;s:5:\"pager\";a:5:{s:9:\"use_pager\";s:1:\"0\";s:14:\"items_per_page\";i:6;s:7:\"element\";i:0;s:6:\"offset\";i:2;s:12:\"current_page\";i:0;}}', created = 1503131774, expire = 1503132074, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'not_wsm:block_1:results:6f171fd0922b167e997398452392a596' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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Date:

Every year in either Dublin or Belfast the pro and anti choice movements come head to head around the so called ‘Rally for Life’.  This year it was Dublin’s unwilling role to play host to the bigot parade.  It mattered more years than many as a referendum on the hated 8th Amendment that bans abortion is promised for next year.  It could be that the next Dublin bigot parade scheduled for 2019 will come after they have suffered a major defeat.

The anti-choice movement isn’t just concerned with maintaining a law that would jail women and other pregnant people for 14 years for obtaining an abortion in Ireland.  It has a much larger hetero-patriarchal agenda that has suffered defeat after defeat over the last three decades.  Access to contraception, equal pay, the end of the marriage bar (until 1973 in Ireland women had to quite public sector jobs if they got married), decriminalisation of sex between men, an equal age of consent, divorce, sex education in schools, legal recognition of trans people’s gender - you name the issue and they have lost on it.  The constitutional ban on abortion that they forced through in the 8th amendment back in the dark days of 1983 is almost their last stand and Saturday shows it’s going very badly.  They still retain control of schools and hospitals but that too is now being challenged.   All this goes to show this isn’t about ‘life’ but about protecting a deeply discriminatory society set up to favour straight men above everyone else as one mechanism for preserving capitalist class rule.  (BTW If you were wondering what ‘hetero-patriarchal’ meant above, the rest of the paragraph might explain why it’s a useful shorthand.)

With all that in mind WSM members were happy to take to the streets on Saturday as part of the Rally4Choice counter protest.  The annual counter protest is always a bit intense, the idea is not to try to outnumber the anti-choice parade but just to make sure they understand they will be challenged.  So a few hundred pro-choice activists gather to counter protest what is generally a few thousand anti-choice marchers. This is their really big effort of the year with a huge amount being spent on advertising and bussing people to Dublin.  We are essentially there to spoil their party by contesting the public space they are trying to briefly claim as their own.

In Dublin we gather near the Spire as they march down O’Connell street and line both sides of their route with signs chanting pro-choice slogans.  Each year they have some new gimmick to try to counter this, two years back they brought lots of huge banners they held sideways to try to hide us from sight.  The gimmick this year was a pipe band which unsuccessfully tried to drown out the chanting but only really succeeded in bringing their own march to a grinding halt.

This band is a good illustration of their broad agenda, it seems to be part of  the Irish Society for Christian Civilisation which self describes as being “born from the idea of a Counterrevolution, a movement that would embrace every field of action, especially in art, ideas and culture.”  This may be a section or off-shoot of the catholic quasi fascist Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP) organisation which literally opposes the “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” of the French revolution.

A lot of the turnout on the Rally4Choice is from isolated rural towns and villages.  One of the positive aspects every year is the shock  people who come to parade through Dublin or Belfast  suffer when they discover they can’t use the shame and abuse tactics that still maintain silence in some villages.  The anti-choice organisations are given access to catholic schools to spread lies and as a result they recruit teenagers for that brief period between having what you believe is a ‘strong moral opinion’ and the reality of life happening and copping on.  Every year a fresh crop of a few dozen are holding the front banner and shouting only to be long gone by the time the next march comes around.  Essentially there are no twenty year olds that are not some form of religious fundamentalist and precious few of those once the front of the march passes, check out our video of the entire march for confirmation.

The experience on our side is different.  The actual experience on the day is a combination of shock that there are indeed still a few thousand willing to march to maintain a law mandating the jailing of women followed by elation that they have once more been seen off.  The strong emotional atmosphere of the counter protest and standing together is a positive bonding experience that helps us work through the other disagreements that are part and parcel of political organisation.

Saturday’s march turned out to be relatively uneventful. Both their spirits and numbers were down quite considerably, they already have the smell of defeat.  Most years known fascists are spotted taking part in their parade, fascists in general are doubly anti-choice.  Following on from the nazis they want to deny abortion to ‘white’ women and impose abortions on others.  In 1339 they made abortion illegal for ‘Aryans’, in 1943 they made providing abortion to an ‘Aryan’ woman punishable by death. In all countries today fascist organisations are linked to anti-choice movements.

This year we spotted two know far right activists and one woman who repeatedly gave the ’seig heil’ fascist salute as she passed the counter protest.  There was no intervention by stewards at the time and when we tweeted photos of her doing so the anti-choice organisers first tried to claim she was waving, then that she was pointing and then that the pictures were fake.  When video was posted they retreated back to claiming she was waving and best of us that us pointing out this behaviour was off-putting (rather than the saluting!).  There is material for a book in the attempts at denial and distraction around those photos. Justin Barett did tweet / claim that his far-right National Party had taken part but no one spotted them (or him) on the march so if they did they snuck in at some point after the counter protest.

The main (and traditional) post-march controversy was over how many actually marched.  The anti-choice movement was once very powerful because it had wealthy members in positions of power.  This was in the 1980s and things have changed, but this allowed them to appoint people to powerful positions in state institutions.  This perhaps explains why at protest after protest, RTÉ - the state broadcaster - reports as fact vastly inflated estimates of how many attended their protests. 

It was no different this time, RTÉ headlined that ‘10s of thousands’ had marched and in the body of the report reproduced without comment a claim by the organisers that ’70,000 had marched’.  In fact, as we proved, it was more like 5,500.  At the time of writing - 4 days later - RTÉ have yet to correct their report or even admit the numbers in it have been challenged but otherwise we are pleased with our role as the meddling kids who stopped them getting away with their outlandish claims.

The only heated confrontation we observed was when that far right religious pipe band on the march that was hoping to drown out pro-choice chants deliberately backed right up against one section of the counter protest.  As photographers arrived to capture an image of this some of the counter protesters jumped in front of the band with placards.  This led to some pushing and shoving and the arrival of more photographers, blocking the route of the march entirely.  Eventually a cop ordered the band to march away and, looking somewhat crestfallen, they did so.  Rather bizarrely, they must have then left the march and circled back because a few minutes later they marched through again, without stopping this time.

Some fresh comedy was provided this year by a crudely done banner with far too many words on it that tried to proclaim that anti-choice politics "has nothing to do with religion".  But all throughout the march there were priests, nuns, lots of people waving rosary prayer beads, pictures of catholic saints and the previous pope.  Best of all towards the end was a sizeable bloc carrying a half life size statue of the 'Virgin' Mary on a flower strewn board at shoulder height while others waved larger posters of her.  That whole bloc was reciting the 'Hail Mary' prayer as they marched past.

Once the anti-choice march had passed, the pro-choice counter demonstration joyously took the street behind them and followed the back of their march as far as Liberty Hall (about 500m away).  There we stopped and dispersed with the sense of a job well done.  The annual counter demonstration is not a major event but those who took part this year certainly came away with fresh determination for the campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment and fight for bodily autonomy for all.

Words: Andrew Flood (follow Andrew on Twitter)

Facebook Photo album from the Rally4Choice 

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