A group of campaigners will set from Dublin this morning to join a Belfast rally demanding free, safe and legal abortion services across the island of Ireland.
The Abortion Rights Campaign has organised a bus travelling from Eden Quay to the North to take part in Belfast’s International Women’s Day rally.
The group said it was aiming to reciprocate the "incredible support that those in Northern Ireland showed to us during the campaign to repeal the 8th."
Have you booked your bus ticket to IWD Rally 2019? Just over a week until we join @All4Choice to march in Belfast next Saturday for abortion rights in Northern Ireland!
Please share widely, and tell your friends: https://t.co/fiKWEAHpRi#NowforNI #FreeSafeLegalLocal
— Abortion Rights IE (@freesafelegal) February 28, 2019
“During the referendum campaign to repeal the 8th, campaigners from all over the North travelled across the border to join canvassing groups, they put aside their own fight for abortion services by dedicating all their energies into our struggle,” they said.
“They showed complete and unwavering solidarity throughout, returning it is the very least we can do.”
The group said women in the North are being “failed terribly on both sides of the water.”
“Those wishing to access abortion in the Republic face prohibitive fees of up to €450, and a vista where travelling to Britain is a more viable option,” they said.
“Those who are unable to travel or afford the exorbitant fees in the south, risk prosecution of up to life imprisonment for importing safe but illegal abortion pills.
“We have heard the stories, we know forcing people to travel, or to break the law in order to access basic healthcare, is cruel. We join Alliance for Choice in their demand for decriminalisation of abortion and access at home now.”
At the #iwd19ni rally tomorrow we will be joined by Time Travellers for Choice!
'Time Travellers for Choice are calling on all enthusiastic campaigners and vintage costumers alike! It's time to throw on your best vintage garment for Belfast's International Women's Day March!' pic.twitter.com/BZkvoIRVtS
— Alliance For Choice (@All4Choice) March 8, 2019
The rally itself is focused on the wider issues surrounding women’s rights – with the theme for this year titled, ‘The Time is Now – Women Rise Up.’
Demonstrators will gather at Belfast’s Writers Square for music, dance, activists stalls and a feminist photo booth.
The march towards Belfast City Hall gets underway at 11:30am – where there will be speeches from the Alliance for Choice, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and a host of others.
The organisers of the event are urging everyone to get involved noting it is “one day a year that we do this and we have good reason.”
“As we have not achieved equality, our sisters and brothers throughout the world are standing together today to show the world we are strong, we are loud and we are united.”