A number of youth organisations have come together to call for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum on the 8th Amendment. The event was hosted by SpunOut.ie, Together For Yes, BeLonGTo, and the USI, in partnership with Swan Youth Service, Young Greens, and Labour Youth.
The event was launched by Minister Helen McEntee TD in a packed room at the Sugar Club in Dublin, attended by young people, youth organisations, and student unions from around the country.
Young people and the referendum
At the launch, Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee said, “This is a defining moment for young people, and now is the time to have your say about the kind of Ireland you want for you and your children and your children’s children.”
“Like many of you here I never had the opportunity to vote on this, but we now have an opportunity as young people to make sure our voice is heard and our message is strong.”
Many of the speakers at the event noted that this is the first time anyone has had the opportunity to vote on this issue in 35 years. No one under the age of 50 has had their say on the 8th Amendment, and this vote could be a once in a generation chance to make a change.
Niamh Scully from BeLongTo, a 6th year student from Dublin and a first time voter, recalled her disappointment at not being able to vote in the marriage equality referendum. She reminded young people that, “This is going to be our society…It’s not fair that trans men, non-binary people, and women are being discriminated against in their own country”
All of the speakers emphasised the importance of young people getting engaged in this referendum. Together for Yes Co-Director, Orla O’Connor, said, “I really want to encourage and support all of you to be active and engaged in these last days. Because we need you. We need you to register to vote. We need young people to vote. We need you to talk to your friends, you family, your classmates, those you work with.”
Register to vote
With just a week to go until the deadline to register to vote on Tuesday 8 May, Together for Yes launched their new video at the event, starring Father Ted’s Pauline McLynn, to inform people about the register to vote deadlines and forms. You can watch the video here.
The 8th Amendment and healthcare
The room also heard from Áine O’Connell, a member of the SpunOut.ie Action Panel and the Board of Directors. Áine shared her story of getting cancer treatment in Ireland under the 8th Amendment, saying “If I had gotten pregnant during my chemotherapy treatment, I quite possibly would have been denied that treatment for my cancer”.
Áine called on young people to be part of change in Ireland: “Young people have a history of bringing change in Ireland for the better. Young people aged 18-25 made a huge difference in the marriage equality referendum, and I believe we can make a huge difference in this referendum too, so long as we do two things: talk and vote.”
A call to vote Yes
All of the speakers encouraged young people in Ireland who are eligible to vote to get registered, and to use their vote to repeal the 8th Amendment. Síona Cahill, Vice-President and President Elect of the USI, recalled the role of students and young people in the marriage equality referendum, saying, “It is our mobilisation, it is our conversations, it is our leadership that can win this.”
Ian Power, Executive Director of SpunOut.ie, said, “SpunOut.ie was founded with a mission of empowerment. Our vision has always been of an Ireland where young citizens are empowered to make informed decisions about their own lives and health, and that is why we are supporting a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum”