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Report on International Women’s Day Rally in Dublin

7 March 2022

“No Woman Left Behind” demonstration outside Leinster House.

A rally was called by the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) on Saturday 5th of March in front of the Dáil, under the slogan No Woman Left Behind.  It turned out not to be the case.

It was a small rally of a couple of hundred people, with some young people attending, but for many this was almost a lifelong ritual.  The platform was packed with speakers, far too many for any of them to go into much detail on what they had to say.  Various issues were addressed by the speakers, violence against women, including some shocking statistics on Female Genital Mutilation in Ireland itself and the lack of refuges around the country for female victims of violence.

The issue of the National Maternity Hospital was referred to by Roisín Shortall from the Social Democrats as well as other speakers, but it was not a central point.  It was just one more issue amongst many, at a time the government is dead set on doing a deal with the nuns.

Given the nature of rally with a long list of speakers there was little time for any of them to go into any detail on proposals about what to do in relation to issues of violence and the NMH.  In the case of the NMH, given that a number of politicians spoke from the platform the lack of leadership on the issue is glaring.

The one issue that did not formally raise its head and is relevant to the question of refuges is women’s spaces.  Access by males to the female estate in prisons, a reality in Ireland, or refuges for women (a matter of time here as it has happened elsewhere) was not dealt with.  In fact, one of the speakers the former Socialist Party T.D. Ruth Coppinger, couldn’t bring herself to say pregnant women and labouring under the delusion that men can get pregnant kept referring to pregnant people.

Eilís O’ Hanlon writing in the Sunday Independent pointed out that you can’t protect women, if you can’t even define them and mention them.  On this point, there was apparently a successful attempt to block a Gender Critical feminist’s placard and bully her into leaving the rally.

In all the rally had little concrete to say about women’s rights, other than to enumerate a long list of grievances and issues that, with the exception of the statistics on FGM, would be known to most of the audience, and had nothing to say about where we go from here, all the time ignoring the elephants in the room, such as the encroachment on women’s spaces and no calls were made by the T.D.s to the Greens to break with the government on the issue of the NMH.

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