It’s time for the Irish pro-choice groups to return the favour and support Northern Ireland’s campaign for equality

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Wednesday 06 March 2019 15:59
Derry Girls join Northern Ireland abortion rights protesters in Westminster

Last May, the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment was carried out following a campaign by the largest popular movement the island of Ireland has ever seen. Ordinary people mobilised in their thousands to secure safe, legal and free abortion in Ireland. The referendum was passed by a two-to-one majority, with almost one-and-a-half million votes cast in favour, and legislation was enacted in January.

The members of Alliance for Choice, the primary campaign group for abortion rights in Northern Ireland, played a major role in this, despite the fact its outcome would not benefit them directly. They attended marches, helped with canvassing, particularly in the border counties, and lobbied decision-makers throughout the island.

Those who live in Northern Ireland can, in theory, be both Irish citizens and British citizens. However, neither Irish nor British citizens in Northern Ireland enjoy the same abortion rights as their fellow citizens in either the Republic or on the island of Great Britain.

The Abortion Rights Campaign is an all-island organisation because bodily autonomy is an all-island issue. Ahead of the Belfast International Women’s Day rally on 9 March, which will be addressed by the Alliance for Choice co-chairs, we the undersigned constituent groups of the Abortion Rights Campaign wish to extend the same solidarity to Alliance for Choice that we received from them last May.

Signed by:

Rebels4Choice (Cork)
Drogheda ARC
Galway East for Choice
Donegal ARC
Pro-choice Wexford
North Kildare Pro-choice
Leitrim ARC
Galway Pro-choice
Clare ARC
Roscommon for Choice
Kerry for Choice
ARC Offaly
Irish Pro-choice in Oz (Melbourne Irish ARC)
Kilkenny ARC
Inishowen ARC
London-Irish ARC

Knife crime is a complex issue

Reading Professor Andrews’ article on the cause – as if there was a single one! – of the shocking rise of knife crime deaths, I gasped when I saw him explicitly agree with the prime minister’s assertion that knife crime has nothing to do with the fall in police numbers. Of course the disenfranchisement of (especially Bame) youths over the course of the austerity years has been a major factor contributing to today’s crime statistics – nobody disputes that. But for an academic to suggest this heartrending socio-political catastrophe has essentially a single causation surely beggars belief.

Cressida Dick, to her great credit, has already gone on record saying out loud what is intuitively obvious, as well as taught, at the College of Policing: of course there is an inverse relationship between community police activity and crime incidence. But social deprivation also plays a significant role.

If there is room for debate and argument here then let it be about their relative impact. Anything else is political posturing, post-hoc attempts at blame deflection, or lazy thinking.

Dr Kai Rabenstein
St Leonards, East Sussex

Reading up on The Troubles

Re The Derry Girls. Isn’t it worth revisiting and properly acknowledging Joan Lingard’s 1970s series of novels about The Troubles? These beautifully observed and immediate books for young readers followed the forbidden love of Protestant Sadie and Catholic Kevin at a time when the events were still very real and visceral, without the present series’ knowing gloss. I taught Across the Barricades in the 1990s, alongside Romeo and Juliet, South African literature and current news reports of other forbidden relationships in societies wracked by racial and religious conflict. Lingard’s books are widely available online and deserve to be recognised for their taboo-breaking courageousness and emotional heft.

Linda Calvey

Antisemitism – a way to gain political points?

How many people, like me, are sick to death of politicians trying to make political gain from accusing other politicians of antisemitism? In a would-be Christian country, I have come across more anti-Catholic sentiment – some undisguised and some more lying just beneath the surface – than any antisemitic bigotry. Who in parliament dares condemn the sectarianism and bigotry that flows from Masonic and Orange Lodges?

On the other side of the coin, I do not see our politicians warring against the Islamophobic comments that are much more prevalent on the likes of Facebook and other social media.

William Burns

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Behind every man…

Reading Chuka Umunna’s praise for The Wife reminds me of a saying: “Behind every successful man there stands a very surprised woman.”

David Watson
Goring Heath, Oxfordshire

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