The London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign has launched a video campaign encouraging Irish citizens abroad to come home to vote “Yes” in the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment.
The two-minute piece, written by Jamie Hooper and directed by Emily Murray, was filmed by Irish people living abroad in six cities around the world, including Las Vegas, London and Lyon. The referendum on whether or not Ireland should remove its constitutional ban on abortion takes place on May 25, 2018.
“The video is an exciting and uplifting call to arms for Irish people abroad. We want it to encourage a tide of people back home, united not just by their destination, but by their common goal,” said Hooper.
The inspiration for the piece came from the 2015 #hometovote campaign for Ireland’s marriage equality referendum.
“We wanted to recapture that energy and show people they have the power to enact real change,” Hooper added.
Citizens abroad are entitled to vote in the referendum if they left Ireland during or after December 2016, are on the official register and return home to vote in person.Based on the latest emigration statistics it’s estimated around 40,000 Irish people are eligible to vote.
Award-winning actress Lauryn Canny, 19, will be traveling home from Los Angeles for the referendum.
"My grandmother, knowing how important this subject is to me, organized a whip-around for my flight home. All my family and friends contributed," she said.
"This is the first referendum I'll have voted in and one that I am extremely passionate about."
Another voter said he'll fly to Dublin from France to cast his ballot. His wife had to access abortion services after the couple was told their baby was unlikely to survive for more than a couple of hours outside the womb.
“We grieved the loss of the baby we had envisioned joining our family. We think of her still," he said.
"We in Ireland abandon and exile those with crisis pregnancies at the moment they need us most. It's unconscionable. It's unnecessary."
Claire McGowran of the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign is confident the video will result in a flurry of flight sales.
“This referendum could be lost or won on one vote. Every trip home matters, so if you’re eligible to vote please come home,” she said.
“Since we launched hometovote.com in February, we’ve heard from voters who are traveling from as far away as South East Asia and Australia.
“The fact that people are willing to journey thousands of miles, shows the strength of feeling behind the Yes campaign.
“We’re grateful to James and his team for putting this film together and giving us an idea of the kind of emotional scenes we’ll be seeing in May.”
The Eighth Amendment renders abortion almost entirely illegal in Ireland, even in cases of rape or fatal fetal abnormality. It carries a jail term of up to 14 years.At least nine women a day are forced to travel to Britain to access abortion services. Thousands more order pills online every year.
Irish citizens overseas should visit hometovote.com for more information on eligibility and how to get on the electoral register.