25 May 2018 was a landmark day for Ireland – the day 66.4 per cent of voters repealed the Eighth Amendment and voted to allow for access to abortion in a once staunchly Catholic country. But how did we get to that point? From barely even mentioning the word ‘abortion’ prior to 2012, to a two-thirds majority in favour of removing one of the most divisive articles in our Constitution, a long road was travelled by the people of Ireland in a remarkably short length of time. It was not a straightforward journey however, and much work was required to lead the national conversation towards that decisive Yes vote.
It’s a Yes! tells the remarkable inside story of the Together for Yes campaign, including the drama and the tension, providing an authoritative account of a campaign that changed Irish society forever. Coming together in the wake of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, three Irish feminists from three different generations – Gráinne Griffin, Orla O’Connor and Ailbhe Smyth – established a grassroots, women-led social movement that paved the way for political parties and other civil society groups, and created a coalition of over 200 organisations from every sector of Irish society and from every county in the country. Against a background of misinformation, media misunderstanding, Church-dominated thinking and numerous political scandals involving women’s health, the campaign maintained a remarkable unity of message to deliver that monumental vote.
Compelling and insightful, and illustrated with photographs from the campaign, It’s a Yes! is for anyone interested in learning more about the movement behind the most seismic shift in Irish society in the past three-and-a-half decades.
Gráinne Griffin, Orla O’Connor and Ailbhe Smyth are co-directors of the Together for Yes national campaign. For this work they were listed among Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2019. Alison O’Connor is a journalist, broadcaster and author. She writes a weekly column in the Irish Examiner.