Dermot Freeman

A super canvass for Repeal in Swords

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On Sunday I was fortunate enough to have the time to spend canvassing Swords for a Yes in the upcoming referendum on the 8th amendment with great gang of volunteers. This was a weekend when Together For Yes was organising big canvasses in towns that we knew had to be covered. Naas, Swords and Navan along with other towns were all being canvassed this weekend.

Maser’s Repeal the 8th mural covered up again but who regulates the regulator?

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There is a poetic symbolism to the images here of the artist Maser’s Repeal the 8th mural at the Project Arts centre. (additional images in comments section) The art is covered up. A government body orders a theatre space to cover up a mural of a heart, leaving just half a heart in its wake.

The line from the Charities Regulator is that the Project Arts is excluded from taking a stance on Repeal because that would be ‘advancing a political cause’ that does not relate to their charitable purpose of their arts space.

Distrust politicians? - Vote for Repeal because we forced them to call the referendum, we are the rebellion

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One of the more bizarre elements of the pro-choice referendum in Ireland has been the attempt by anti-choice campaigners to portray themselves as rebels.  This while defending a 35 year old ban on abortion that was introduced to copper fasten the status quo back then.   This is providing something of an excuse however for some characters on the left (generally men) to adopt anti women positions on the basis that the 'establishment' is now backing change.  A couple of our members take this argument apart below.

Trusting politicians does not come easy - distrust comes far easier. In the fight for votes in the Repeal referendum the issue of distrusting politicians has been raised by the anti-choice side. Politicians do have poor track record, tending to leave a litany of broken promises in their wake. We all remember different promises broken - I remember the one about ‘ to protect the vulnerable’ when this battered ship sailed into the storm of austerity. In Ireland, even politicians say things like ‘you can’t trust politicians’. It as if by saying that they are exempting themselves from being politicians, and saying, you can trust us again.

Trust and distrust are flip sides of a coin. The answer you give frequently depends on this. Are you dancing? Who is asking? On the bottom of some No posters it says 'join the rebellion’. There is a gross twisting of the truth going on here. It can be compared with Darth Vader stretching out his gloved hand and asking you to join the rebellion. Essentially it is the empire of misogyny doing everything in its power to gain a single no vote. Their mind trick here is that if the Government want you to vote for something that you should vote the other way. It hinges on the inherent distrust factor.

How the government were forced to call a referendum to repeal the 8th

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Now that we have a definitive date of May 25th 2018, the date on which we will get to vote to repeal the 8th Amendment it is timely for us to remember how this opportunity to change Irish society into a fairer one came about. 

History is written by those in power, therefore this referendum has comes with a heavily constructed backstory that goes like this. Leo Varadkar, our funky sock wearing leader, with all his social media savvy got together with his wing of the Fine Gael party to progress social change in Ireland. Repeal was the next obvious step. The line continues that having witnessed the historic popular vote on the marriage equality referendum, the government decided to tackle the thorny issue of the 8th amendment. They had not the courage to devise a plan themselves so they gave it to the Citizens assembly, hoping that if they came back with something grossly unpopular then it was the assembly that could be blamed. I diverge from the script here, but it is important to recognise that there is a distinct lack of courage with the elected ones. Now, they are now fully enacting the recommendations, because the Citizens assembly came back with the obvious solution to deal with the issue. That was to repeal the 8th amendment and legislate for safe abortion in Ireland.

Together for Yes launched to campaign for Yes vote in Repeal of 8th referendum

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There are times when you walk into a room, and you sense that this is the exact space that you should be, something special is about to take place. It was that way, when Solidarity Times attended the launch of the Together for Yes campaign in the Pillar Room of the Rotunda Hospital last Thursday [22nd of March]. The room was filling up fast and there was excited chatter in all quarters. You need a crowd, and progress and movements come from crowds assembled and pushing in a direction. Together for Yes, is as broad an alliance as I have ever witnessed for a campaign, and all the disparate groups where represented, covering a spectrum that ran from activists, feminists, anarchists, socialists, republicans, through to the most established of establishment political parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael included.

Together for Yes is a broad alliance, very broad because it unites all of the people who see this law for what it is, and the time has come to address it, by repealing it. This is issue which has blighted this island, and will continue to do so, even after we win the vote to repeal the 8th amendment, as we cannot forget about the active denial of reproductive rights that exists in Norther Ireland. But in the room last Thursday, the atmosphere crackled with static, there was anticipation to get this started, to enact the campaign, and to repeal the 8th amendment, to move towards free safe medical reproductive care for people in the republic of Ireland.

Dublin Book Launch of the Worms that Changed the World

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The Dublin launch of the book, The Worms that Saved the World takes place on the on the 2nd of December, in the Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin 1 at 4.00pm.

In The Worms That Saved The World a group of earthworms living on an imaginary headland begin to suffer when a golf course takes up residence around their home. The worms attempt to tell the new owners about their concerns but they are dismissed. In response they organise and join with the other birds and animals on the headland. Eventually they reclaim the headland for everyone.

Democracy - The Art of Re-making Society

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David Graeber’s excellent insider account of the occupation of Wall Street [1] offers us an insight into what form the politics of resistance needs to take. It will be dual purpose, having to both build resistance and also build anew. It will be about renewal, hope and learning. Crucially, how you build resistance will inform and shape what is to follow. It will entail democracy being built from ground zero.
 
During Occupy wall street there was a electric hum that came from that community. People were actively engaged on a social level, face to face discussions everywhere attempting to make it an active space for direct democracy. In that electricity of building community, ideas flourished, principles were applied, democracy was direct and actions flowed from the place where decisions were reached, collectively. In short, politics has to became about the remaking of society.[2] What is society if it is not about people? It can only be rebuilt by people; people meeting, planning, discussing, deciding and acting together.

March for Choice 2017 - report & video

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Saturday the 30th of September 2017 will go down as a high point in the fight for abortion rights in the Republic, and that is a struggle that stretches back decades. Years of campaigning and maintaining a focus on the issue, saw a massive crowd of nearly 30,000 people take to the streets for the annual March for Choice as organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC). The calls are for action, and the need for Repeal of the 8th Amendment.

It was the X-case which politicised me - and I'll march again on the 30th

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Choice is a political issue.  I emigrated to the UK in the 80’s and when I returned to Dublin it was the X-case which politicised me.  It was incomprehensible to me as a 23 year old that this young 14 year old girl who had been raped was not allowed to leave the country.  
 
I was not the only one who felt strongly about this, and there were massive marches asking for the young woman to be let go to the UK to have an abortion. That was 1992 [in the picture I am there holding the placard on the left]. I felt like I had to leave this place to come back and see it with new eyes, and see how dysfunctional it truly was, and remains. 

Traveller Ethnicity: The end of the denial

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This evening, when Enda Kenny makes an announcement to the Dáil recognising the identity of Irish Travellers as a distinct ethnic group, it will be an historic moment for Irish society.  This recognition, which has been a very long time coming, marks the end of a campaign that has been fought for decades by Travellers to be recognised in their home country as an ethnic group.  So what’s being done today is formally ending the long denial of Traveller ethnicity that has taken place in the Irish state.

As the statement that from the Joint Oireachtas Committee admitted
“Travellers are, de facto, a separate ethnic group. This is not a gift to be bestowed upon them, but a fact the State ought to formally acknowledge….”

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