Special guests speakers and performers announced for The North Is Next at Dublin Fringe

The North Is Next, an upcoming event in the Project Arts Centre Dublin, will feature live performances and discussions on the fight for equal marriage and reproductive health rights in Northern Ireland.

A series of photographs showing the speakers at The North Is Next event

The guests and speakers for The North Is Next, a special zine launch and event created in collaboration between GCN, Dublin Fringe and Outburst Arts, have been announced.

The event will mark this most pivotal moment in the fight for equal marriage and reproductive health rights in Northern Ireland through a multitude of voices with live performances, music and discussions.

Among the people performing at the event is Irish actor Amy Conroy, whose play I ♥ Alice ♥ I debuted in the Absolut Fringe in 2010, and Call The Midwife star Amy McAllister.

A zine by the same name will be launched at the event, and features work from journalist and author Una Mullally, playwright Stacey Gregg, poet Dawn Watson, academic and activist Goretti Horgan, photographer, and activist Emma Campbell. It is illustrated by Derry native singer-songwriter SOAK and designed by GCN’s own Dave Darcy.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Irish academic, feminist and lesbian activist Ailbhe Smyth and will include Ruth McCarthy from Outburst Arts, Thomas Wells from Alliance For Choice, and Shannon Sickels: playwright, activist, and someone who has recently launched a legal challenge to establish a judicial review for equal civil marriage in Northern Ireland.

Sickels launched this challenge with her partner Grainne Close, alongside Henry and Chris Flanagan-Kane. Sickels and Close were one of the first couples in the UK to be civilly partnered, however they cannot legally marry under Northern Ireland’s current laws. Sickels has also contributed to the zine.

Marriage equality is currently blocked in Northern Ireland by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). A vote on introducing same-sex marriage passed in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2015, but the DUP used a petition of concern to prevent its enactment.

The poster for The North Is Next event featuring an animated heart and a clenched fist. The event will highlight the fight for equal marriage and reproductive rights in Northern Ireland

The DUP has also regularly quashed any calls for the enactment of progressive abortion legislation. At present, people can face prison sentences up to life in Northern Ireland for seeking abortions.

On July 24, 2019, the Parliament of the United Kingdom introduced an act that provides a pathway to legalising both abortion and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. The act stipulates that if the Northern Irish government is not restored by October 21, 2019, then both marriage equality and abortion legislation can be passed without interference from the DUP.

Lisa Connell, Managing Editor of GCN and co-creator of The North is Next, writes: “ The 1.8 million people who live in Northern Ireland still don’t have marriage equality or access to abortion services. Their human rights have been encroached on for decades. As part of the 2019 Fringe festival, GCN, Dublin Fringe and Outburst Arts have joined forces to commission a zine, and curate and present a very special event”

She continues: “In the shadow of Brexit and on the cusp of potentially immense change with a looming October 21 deadline for a power-sharing agreement in Stormont, we recognise the strength in, and need for, solidarity as we face the reality that the fight is far from over on either side of the border.”

The North Is Next will take place this Saturday at 2 pm, September 7 in the Project Arts Centre, Dublin, the same day as the Rally for Choice in Belfast.

Tickets are available here.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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