“No interest in honouring the democratic mandate”: Trinity students protest graphic anti-abortion imagery

Anti-abortion group has continued to display graphic imagery in aftermath of referendum

Photo by Aisling Grace

Trinity students took to the streets today to cover graphic anti-abortion imagery on College Green. The imagery, displayed by the anti-abortion group Irish Centre for Bioethical Reform (ICBR), contained graphic depictions of foetuses.

Students and activists held banners in front of the ICBR’s imagery in order to block the graphic images. The banners displayed the “Students For Choice” logo, a student-led repeal campaign organised by the Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI).

Speaking to Trinity News, Trinity Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Kevin Keane explained that members of the TCDSU and Repeal committee went out to block the images when they heard what was taking place beside Trinity. “Clearly, [the ICBR] has no interest in honouring the democratic mandate that the people have given that they are pro-choice,” Keane noted. “Democracy is secondary to their ideology.”

Keane continued to say that it is not acceptable to display these images in areas where children can see them due to their graphic and potentially triggering nature. According to Keane, the actions of the ICBR and students’ response shows that “the struggle for reproductive rights didn’t end on the 25th of May” and that activists must “continue to keep campaigning and keep the momentum going.”

TCDSU Communications and Marketing Officer Úna Harty added that the “dedicated canvassers throughout the referendum campaign [were] so fast to react and so determined.” Harty said that “we must take the action to cover those images up for people’s safety and well-being.”

The anti-abortion group, which employed this action prior to the referendum on the repeal of the eighth amendment, have continued to protest after the referendum. Graphic posters were displayed this week outside the National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street and Leinster House. On May 26th, the group were present outside Trinity’s Science Gallery. The group also displayed the posters today on College Green.

During the referendum, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the ICBR’s posters were “really graphic and vile” and should be removed. The Coombe Hospital and Rotunda Hospital both called on campaigners and groups from either side of the referendum debate to cease the use of graphic posters near the hospital due to distress which can result from them.

ICBR Director Jean Simonis Engela announced that the group will continue to protest despite the Yes vote in the referendum “without any regard to any future decision.” Although they have been visible during the referendum campaign, Engela remarked that “the ICBR is not involved in political activity.”

The referendum on the repeal of the eighth amendment took place on Friday, May 25th. A “Yes” vote was announced on Saturday evening at Dublin Castle, with 66.4% of voters expressing their desire to repeal the eighth.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.