A new Irish podcast is being released telling the story of the successful campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. How the Yes Was Won features interviews with activists and organisers from all across Ireland, framing the struggle as it truly was. Speaking with everyone from academics to anarchists, this podcast builds a full picture of the abortion rights movement in Ireland, warts and all.
The idea sparked right after the results of the referendum came out in May 2018; from a comment made by then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who described the result as “the culmination of a quiet revolution that has taken place in Ireland over the past 10-20 years.”
As Aisling Dolan, co-creator and co-producer of the podcast, said: “This pissed everybody off. It was not a quiet revolution, but a hard-earned result that came about from years of vital activism from people who were not heard.”
In an exclusive interview with Aisling, she cites Finn Dwyer from the Irish History podcast as the person who started it all. Finn had been making a podcast during the Repeal campaign of 2018, to record fresh responses and fresh memories.
While the 10 episode series will cover the 2018 campaign for Repeal, a much bigger story is explored; from the late ‘70s to the present day. As Aisling notes, “We all [the producers] knew the Eighth Amendment, we were all born under the Eighth Amendment, lived under the Amendment, but we never really questioned: how did it happen?”
How the Yes Was Won tells the story of the grassroots movement, of the people who were knocking on doors, and handing out leaflets. The first year and a half of the podcast was spent on research. Then interviews were conducted with many notable names from the campaigns through the years: Mary Gordon, Eddie Conlon, Ann Connolly, and Dr Ursula Barry are just some of the people featured.
Aisling notes that while the 2018 Together for Yes campaign accomplished great things, it left people out “and it’s important to acknowledge that.” The podcast will showcase the stories of migrants, trans folks, and others who were left out of the marketing and the follow up media after the ‘Yes’ was won. “We simply wouldn’t have got repeal without those people.”
As well as telling the stories of those who were left behind, How the Yes Was Won wanted to make sure they didn’t tell a Dublin-centric story. They made sure to talk to activists outside of Dublin, although Aisling admits it was hard to find people willing to be interviewed.
When chatting about the interviews, Aisling told the story of one of her favourite memories from the podcast; during the March for Choice, pocket microphone in hand, herself and co-producer Deirdre were collecting reactions. They saw a woman running to the front of the march, stopped her and asked for a comment. That woman was Mary Ryder, who was one of the people to organise the march for the X-case in 1992, and an activist for reproductive rights for over 30 years.
We also spoke about what episode she is most looking forward to coming out; episode three (which is already available) covers a story we don’t hear much about. This episode details the time from 1983 up to the X case but dealing with the Women’s Information Network – when some of the women from the Right to Choose group manned an anonymous phone line, providing simple yet essential activism.
The team behind How the Yes Was Won want to make sure that listeners know that while a lot of the interviewees say ‘pregnant women,’ “we’re also acknowledging that not only women can get pregnant, non-binary people can get pregnant, trans people can get pregnant, so it’s important for us to get that across.”
How The Yes Was Won will be airing new episodes every Tuesday and Friday from May 25th to June 25th, and is available on all podcast platforms. They can also be found on social media, @howtheyeswaswon, for some cracker content.
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