Jeanne Rathbone

IMELDA- Ireland making England the Legal Destination for Abortion and President Higgins visit.

Posted in Ireland and abortion and President Higgins visit. by sheelanagigcomedienne on April 10, 2014


The indomitable Ann Rossiter, who has been supporting Irish women forced to come to England for an abortion, is still campaigning against the shameful treatment of Irish women. She wrote  Ireland’s Hidden Diaspora: The Abortion Trail 

Ann Rossiter Abortion Story – YouTube

Ann and her book


She is now a member of IMELDA.Speaking of Imelda

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. is a direct action feminist performance group that seeks to challenge the ongoing problem of Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion. We operate against the shaming and silencing of women who have had abortions in the Irish region and more widely.

IMELDA was the secret code name for abortion used by the Irish Women’s Abortion Support Group, a group of activists based in London who provided support to women travelling from Ireland to England for abortions between 1980 and 2000. This code name enabled Irish women travelling to England for abortions to keep their plans secret so as to avoid stigma, and up until 1992 when the right to travel for abortion was implemented, criminalization. Up to six thousand women travel from the Irish region continually travel to the UK each year to access abortion services. Apart from the considerable expense and stress of having to travel abroad for a medical procedure, these women are denied follow-up after-care. Furthermore, in 2013 the Irish Republic implemented a 14-year prison sentence for women who have abortions in Ireland illegally. This has dire consequences for women who take pro-abortive medication because they cannot afford to travel or are not permitted to leave the country. We want women in the Irish region, and more widely, to have control over their own bodies and medical services to support their choices. In reclaiming the name IMELDA we wish to act in solidarity with women’s groups who have sought to counteract the inhumanity of state legislation in both Northern and Southern Ireland, while operating against the silencing and shaming of women who have abortions.
Imelda at Irish centre

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A is based in London. We do not represent anyone but ourselves. We exist in solidarity with pro-choice groups in Ireland and throughout the world who fight draconian patriarchal regimes. We maintain that reproductive choice is a human right and that all women should have access to safe and legal abortion services in both the North and South of Ireland. We campaign for changes in Irish law so that women, north and south, may have the choice to have legal safe abortions and follow up care.

Contact us:


They performed outside the Irish Embassy when Michael D Higgins – our President-  visited in April. ( I knew him as a student when we both served on the Literary and Debating Society committee and hasn’t he done well.) Michael D acknowledged them, smiled and waved. Sabina was modelling as many colourful outfits created by Irish designers as was possible. She is tall and elegant compared to Michael D but he is the great orator and statesman.   queen and michael dMichael D and Charles

Michael d and Sabina  Bridge

Michael D and Sabina

They have already been mentioned in the Irish Times rt at:  and you can see IMELDA on You Tube     On Tuesday morning at the beginning of the President of the Irish Republic’s state visit celebrating improved relations between Ireland and Britain, the pro-choice performance group, Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A., made a striking presence outside the Irish embassy in London. Dressed in red, singing ‘Sail Away’ and waving a shimmering red cloth representing the Irish Sea, Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. highlighted a much less-publicized facet of Irish-British relations: the 12 women a day who are forced to travel to England for an abortion because this choice is denied to them in Ireland.

In 2013, the Republic of Ireland introduced a 14-year prison sentence for women who have abortions in Ireland illegally. The new 14-year prison sentence has especially dire consequences for women who take pro-abortive medication because they cannot afford to travel or are not permitted to leave Ireland to travel. In this morning’s performance, some women were banished under the ‘sea’, symbolizing the powerful hypocrisy of Ireland’s anti-choice laws and their cruel disregard and neglect of women’s reproductive health, including the daily banishment of 12 women across the Irish Sea.

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. members respect President Higgins’ achievements to date. However, its members intervened at the Irish Embassy this morning since any discussion and celebration of Irish-British relations should have to engage with the ongoing cruel hypocrisy of I.M.E.L.DA. – Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion. Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. members were pleased that President Higgins acknowledged their presence by smiling and waving when departing the Irish Embassy for Windsor.

More photos here

Ann and Marian Larragy  produce the London Irish Feminist Network Newsletter after the demise of the London Irish Women’s Centre. Marian is also part of IMELDA. They jointly wrote Beyond the Pale: Ireland and the British Women’s Movement

Ann MarianThe photo with Marian in the centre was taken at a talk at the Feminst Library. Womens Studies Without Walls and London Irish Womens Network event                 ‘Making and Breaking: Images of Irish Women’

I attended another talk there with Mary Lodato who is a very determined as she strives to towards a PhD although she was illiterate until her mid thirties. She is feisty and funny. Mary Lodato

London Irish Women’s Network hosts an afternoon focussed on the Magdalene Laundries

The keynote speaker is Mary Lodato, who is writing a PhD on her personal journey of survival, redress and recovery, charting the childhood experience of institutional abuse in an Industrial School which had a Magdalene Laundry attached to it. Some of Mary’s artwork will be on display and Survivor poet, Emer O’Keefe, will read poetry.

Some of us have been here for decades but still striving to have our place in both Irish and British history recognised.

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