What It Was Like To Attend The March For Choice 2017

I was at this year’s March for Repeal and it was the biggest one yet, with over 30,000 reported to have attended. Starting off at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Street, we left at 2pm marching through Dublin ending at the Dáil. Among the groups marching, were members of regional Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC)  groups from all over Ireland, groups from ROSA, political groups and student groups such as Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

I went up on a bus that was organized by the Clare branch of the ARC as part of the UL Feminist Society. This bus picked up from Ennis, UL and Arthur’s Quay before heading to Dublin. Before the March a “Breakfast for Choice” was held in Jigsaw, 10 Belvedere Court. Breakfast was given for free to groups that traveled up from regional ARC groups all around the country. There was an amazing atmosphere,  even though the area was small. People were running in and out getting prepared, while others were chatting excitedly.

At around one o’clock we began to make our way over to the Garden of Remembrance, with our signs in hand. My friend was holding her sign facing outwards and got  called a “baby killer” in passing, but that was the only negative thing said to us on the day. The Garden was swarmed with both individuals and groups from loads of different organizations gathering. When the March started it was kind of quiet but people soon began to join together, chanting and shouting. Chants such as “get your rosaries off our ovaries” and “you say no choice, we say pro-choice” were repeated as we marched through the streets of Dublin.

It was an amazing thing to be part of. Seeing people of all ages, genders and different backgrounds reminded me that I’m not alone in this fight. This is a fight for everyone. There were parents marching with their children, and I even saw a baby with noise cancelling headphones on at one point. At the end of the March there were speakers such as Tara Flynn and former MP Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, who gave emotional speeches to the crowd. McAliskey’s word’s summed up the meaning of the March for me personally. She said “we expect and we demand and we are entitled to exercise the same bodily integrity as every other human being on the face of this planet”.

The March was a huge success but with a referendum said to be coming in May or June 2018, the work for Pro-choice groups like the ARC has only just begun.