Pro-choice demonstrators gather outside Dáil dressed as 'handmaids'

Demonstrators are calling on a committee to 'not water down' the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly

Pro-choice demonstrators gather outside Dáil dressed as 'handmaids'

Image: Edward O'Boyle

A group of pro-choice activists dressed as 'handmaids' have demonstrated outside the Dáil today.

Around a dozen women dressed in the recognisable white hood and red cloak worn by 'enslaved' women in the recent hit TV series The Handmaid's Tale, which was based on Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel.

The demonstration comes as the committee charged with recommending changes to Ireland's abortion laws is holding its first public session today at Leinster House. 

Demonstrator Una Reynolds explained that they want Irish abortion law brought in line with other countries:

Speaking ahead of today's event, the ROSA campaign group said: "Wearing red and white 'Handmaid' costumes modelled on The Handmaid's Tale, ROSA members will deliver a message of 'no retreat from the Citizens Assembly' proposals.

"They say the Committee must implement not water down the full pro-Choice recommendations of the Assembly." 

The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment is today hearing a report from Citizens' Assembly chairperson Justice Mary Laffoy.

Earlier this year, the Assembly recommended that abortion should be legally available in Ireland without restrictions.

Members also recommend that the Constitution should be amended or replaced to allow for the Oireachtas to legislate on the matter.

Speaking ahead of today's public hearing, Committee chairperson Senator Catherine Noone explained: "The Citizens’ Assembly is a randomly selected group of 99 members of the public chaired by Justice Mary Laffoy. Broadly representative of the Irish electorate, it had a mandate to look at number of key issues, including an examination of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

"Our Committee was established to consider this report and its recommendations on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution."

She added: "Each of the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly must now be considered by the Joint Committee as a first step in considering the likely shape of legislation both in this area and on the broader issue of the amendment of the Constitution."

Pro-life protester Tim Jackson, meanwhile, is continuing a hunger strike protest outside the Dáil, demanding that the Oireachtas Committee watch a video of an abortion being carried out.