Delegations from Trinity College Student Union (TCDSU) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) will march alongside organisations such as United Against Racism and Amnesty International in Belfast today for the Rally for Choice.
The rally has been organised by Rally for Choice, along with Northern Ireland’s two biggest pro-choice groups, Alliance for Choice and Alliance for Choice Derry. It is due to start at 2pm at Writers’ Square in Belfast.
Faolan Hook the Trans-Rights activist from the organisation GenderJam, Bernadette Devlin McAlisky a migrant rights activist , Clare Moore a Trade Union leader with NIC-ICTU and various other activists are all due to speak during the rally.
Speaking to Trinity News, President of USI Lorna Fitzpatrick said: “The Union of Students in Ireland is proud to march alongside our friends in Northern Ireland tomorrow. Students’ will continue to make our voices heard and let politicians and people know that we will fight for our bodily autonomy.”
Students in Northern Ireland are jointly represented by USI and the British students’ union, the National Union of Students (NUS). In Northern Ireland they form a joint organisation, known as NUS-USI.
Fitzpatrick added: “We saw a change in July that may extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland but the work to achieve free, safe, legal and local access is not over. USI will join NUS-USI tomorrow just as they joined us in our campaign to repeal the 8th amendment.”
Northern Irish women seeking abortions still have to travel to the Republic or Britain to receive these services. However, amendments to the Northern Ireland Executive Function Bill, made by the House of Commons in Westminster will mean abortion and same-sex marriage becoming legal in Northern Ireland on the 21st of October if the Northern Ireland Executive is still yet to be formed.
TCDSU President Laura Beston told Trinity News: “We are marching today to show support to not only students, but all affected by the strict laws regarding abortion in the north. There were many people in the north who supported those in the south when we lived under the 8th amendment and we owe it to those people to stand in solidarity with them at this pivotal moment in history.
Beston noted: “It is unacceptable that all other areas of the UK have access to abortion but the North is denied. She added that “Hopefully recent developments in Westminster and pressure from marches like this today will bring about the change the north deserves.”
There still remains a great deal of opposition to the legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland. Yesterday evening, thousands of people marched on the Stormon estate to protest against changing the law. Among them was the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Arlene Foster.
Belfast City Council however voted to support the Rally for Choice. with a thirty-four to fourteen majority.