Unions across Ireland call for a referendum on the 8th Amendment

23 Nov 2016

REPEAL8 - RosieHackettBridge - Trade Union Group - RComiskey
Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th

The Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment held a rally today  (November 23rd ) on Rosie Hackett Bridge, Dublin. Full press release below: 

Unions across Ireland call for a referendum on the 8th Amendment 

Respect and protect women’s lives, health and choices 

Today Wednesday, November 23, 2016 at 10.30am, the Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th and our supporters gather on the Rosie Hackett Bridge to call for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment. We will be there in solidarity with women across Europe, South America and Asia who are holding strikes on Friday to demand change from governments on urgent issues for women. And Friday is the day the Citizen’s Assembly gathers to consider Article 40.3.3. 

Mary Diskin, Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th, says: “Abortion is a reality in Ireland: between 1980 and 2014, at least 163,514 women registered for terminations abroad; many others gave no personal details. Young women and those on low or welfare-dependent incomes have the fewest options: they cannot afford to leave the state let alone pay for abortions elsewhere. Travel restrictions prevent refugee and asylum seekers from availing of terminations abroad.” 

USI vice president Síona Cahill says: “The Union of Students in Ireland with over 354,000 students​ across the island, strongly supports the International Women's strike which calls for accessible treatment on the basis of human rights and healthcare. The UK Department of Health statistics show up to a quarter of women giving Irish addresses when availing of abortion services in the UK are aged 18 to24. Yet most students here have never had an opportunity to have their voice and vote heard on this issue. 

“The shuffling away and around this issue needs to end. Students are affected by it every day, and are being failed not only by the system, but the state when it comes to responsibility for their healthcare. We cannot keep thinking it's legitimate to force people overseas when an issue doesn't suit us, further condemning so many young people into shame and secrecy when they should be able to make an informed, supported choice with their own body - and their own lives."​ 

Patricia McKeown and Anne Speed of Unison say: “As members of the Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions we warmly welcome the decision by Irish women across the planet to bring this issue to the centre of global public events on Friday November 25th. We stand shoulder to shoulder with women mobilising demanding actions from governments on urgent issues regarding women. The Irish Government cannot be allowed to sidestep the urgent need to change the constitution. The 8th amendment acts as a direct impediment to delivery of quality health care to women having to make life changing decisions. It will not be good enough to rely on the Citizens Assembly of 99 people to make recommendations. 

“The views of Irish women are already clear. Legislators must legislate for a secular and democratic Republic which recognises that women have human rights and we must be allowed to make individual choices. The first step in meeting responsibility as legislators for TDs is to support a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.” 

Irish Congress of Trade Unions Equality officer David Joyce says: “ICTU opposed this amendment in 1983 and opposes it 33 years later. It was bad policy then and nothing has changed in 2016. As the largest civil society body on the island, Congress stands with Women Rising 2016 in its demand for repeal of Article 40.3.3. Women comprise more than half of the trade union membership in Ireland and it is unacceptable that they live in a country where the law puts their health and lives at risk, criminalises them and forces them to travel abroad to avail of safe and legal abortion services.” 

Unite regional secretary Jimmy Kelly says: “Last year, over 3,400 women travelled from the Republic to Britain to access abortion. As a pro-choice union, Unite has consistently argued that the Eighth Amendment must be repealed as a first step to enabling women to access safe, legal and affordable terminations in Ireland.  

“Solidarity is one of the most powerful weapons ordinary people have in their struggle for progress. We know the power of that weapon in the trade union movement, and Women Rising 2016 is another example of solidarity, as voices around the world are raised in support of each other’s struggle for women’s rights. In Ireland, one of the most pressing issues for women is the struggle for bodily autonomy and repeal of the Eighth Amendment”. 

Mandate general secretary John Douglas says: “Mandate recognises that the 8th Amendment continues to obstruct progress on women’s right to bodily integrity. Without access to reproductive autonomy women do not have full social, economic, political and workplace equality. The 8th Amendment denies them this. We stand in solidarity with Women Rising 2016 and join with them in their call for a referendum to remove Article 40.3.3 from the constitution.” 

Mags O’Brien, Global Solidarity committee, ICTU: “While this is an important issue for all women those in direct provision are doubly affected as they are without the funds to travel and may lose their place in the centre they live in, but also would be afraid to leave the country for fear that they would be denied re-entry.” 

Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, says: “Opinion poll after opinion poll shows the majority of people in Ireland support repeal of the 8th Amendment. From festivals, to painting over murals, to sweatshirts there is no escaping the momentum for a referendum. People recognise that the 8th Amendment is a shameful relic of the past and it’s time our politicians woke up to the need for immediate action so that women's lives, health and choices can be respected and protected." 

Frank Keoghanpresident of the TEEU, says: “The TEEU calls on the government to immediately repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution and to hold a referendum in 2017 to finally provide for the protection and health of Irish women.” 

Steve Fitzpatrickgeneral secretary of the Communication Workers Union, says: “The CWU is proud to be associated with the Trade Union Campaign to Repeal the 8th Amendment.”