The national “Save the 8th” campaign, on 6 May 2018, published a post on Facebook and Twitter stating that our activists in Cork attempted to block their stall from setting up on Saturday 5 May, claiming that we sat on a loading bay to prevent them from unloading their stall setup and “silence other voices”. While an incident did take place, the truth has been turned on its head by the save the 8th campaign. We provide below a few facts about what actually happened on the day.
For each of the three weeks leading up to the incident (21 April, 28 April, 05 May) they have set up their NO stall directly next to our YES stall. They have as much right as anyone to set up a stall, and we have never tried to stop them. On 28 April, they took the additional step of parking a large “Vote NO” billboard van directly behind our stall in what was quite clearly an effort to intimidate us. Of course, we were not comfortable campaigning directly in front of their billboard message so we moved our stall.
On the 5 May, we set up our stall at our usual spot (outside Superdry on Patrick’s Street in Cork City). They then set up their stall in full, around 10-15 metres to the west on the same footpath. We noted that they were again trying to park their billboard van directly behind our stall. In their post, they have claimed that they needed this to unload their stall setup. This is not true – their stall had already been unloaded and was fully set up on the footpath, as it had been during previous weeks. Additionally, there were numerous other locations in which a vehicle could have been parked in the area, if unloading had been necessary. It was clear that they hoped to park in the spot directly behind our stall.
The reason they wanted to park directly behind our stall this week was to try and make us move again. It was clearly a tactic to intimidate us and had nothing to do with unloading their stall. We refuse to be bullied or intimidated, so our activists sat and stood on the loading bay each time their billboard van arrived to prevent them from parking directly behind our stall. This happened a total of four times – each time we saw the billboard van approach, we occupied the loading bay until it had passed. This was a necessary and legitimate political action to take against what was clearly an intimidation tactic.
The photograph below shows our stall and the loading bay behind us on which they tried to park, which our activists occupied for approximately 30 seconds each time their van passed. The billboard van can be seen passing in the background (we have blurred out their message).
We are proud of the action we took to defend our campaign and our message in the face of intimidation. We have never engaged in a tactic to try and prevent the NO side from campaigning – our strategy is to campaign positively for women to have choice in Ireland.