Ireland's Hidden Diaspora: The Abortion Trail and the Making of a London-Irish Underground, 1980-2000

Every year, approximately 5,000 women from the Republic of Ireland and 1,500 from Northern Ireland cross the Irish Sea to have an abortion in a British clinic. They come and go in secret, like women on the run, bearing a terrible burden of shame for two societies in denial. In fact, much pride is taken in the island being seen as a pro-life sort of place. We have been constantly reminded over recent years that Ireland has changed, changed utterly, since the establishment of the Peace Agreement in the North, and the emergence of the Celtic Tiger in the Republic. But, when it comes to the right of a woman to choose, it is a place that is still in the dark ages, north and south of the Border. This book is not an account of the experience of abortion seekers by the women themselves we still wait to hear them speak out in their own names. However, an equally important part of this hidden story is told here by London-Irish women who supported many such individuals before, during, and after their lonely, and often frightening journey across the water . It is also a record of their campaigns for a change in the law in both parts of the island. The supporters and campaigners were members of the Irish Women s Abortion Support Group (IWASG) and the Irish Abortion Solidarity Campaign (Iasc).

The book is a testament to their tireless work, over a twenty year period from the early 1980s, much of which was conducted undercover. In offering new first-hand evidence of such activities, this oral history presents a vivid and timely contribution to debates about the Irish feminist movement in Britain in the late twentieth century.

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