Rival protests over trans rights take place in Dublin city

Let Women Speak and counter-rally involving trans rights activists happening 200m apart

Pro Trans groups gather at the Dáil ahead of the Let Women Speak event in Merrion Square. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Rival demonstrations over trans rights in Dublin’s city centre passed off without incident on Saturday.

A group calling itself Let Women Speak and a counter-rally involving trans rights activists were kept apart by a large bank of gardaí and barriers. The demonstrations happened 200m apart on Merrion Square.

Let Women Speak, which was founded in the UK, describes itself as a grassroots gender critical, radical feminism group upholding women’s rights to sex-segregated spaces.

They were opposed by a rally involving several organisations including Trans and Intersex Pride, Le Cheile, Mammies for Trans Rights and the Socialist Party along with People Before Profit.


The trans rights activists arrived at the barriers early as the Let Women Speak organisers were getting set up. They chanted “trans rights are human rights” and “trans rights, women’s rights, same rights”.

Campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen, known as Posie Parker, opened the Let Women Speak rally by claiming “transitioning children” was “profound abuse.”

“All the women and men are here to say no,” she said.

Irish-born, British-based academic and author Helen Joyce said that if women cannot insist on women-only spaces then they have no rights. “They (the counter-protesters) don’t understand that women’s rights depend upon women being able to set boundaries that exclude all men however they identify,” she said.

She praised the gardaí for their stewardship of the event. “I will be going back to England and telling them, ‘this is how it is done’.”

She also described the forthcoming Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 as “literally Orwellian.” “People all over the political spectrum know what is happening here is wrong. We have to keep saying it is because human rights depend upon it.”

Comedy writer Graham Linehan, who has been a gender critical campaigner for many years, also spoke at the demonstration.

On the other side of the barrier speakers used loudspeakers, sirens, chanting and disco music to try and drown out the Let Women Speak rally.

Former People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger said the young people who had turned out for the rally were not going to allow trans people to be “discriminated against to have hate fomented against them. The Far Right are circling around this issue. It is clear from the turnout that this is a very important issue of equality, of the right to exist in society without fear or discrimination.

“Trans rights are women’s rights,” she said.

Speaker Eddie McGuinness said their rally was “what Ireland is all about - a true rainbow. Our trans brothers, sisters no matter who they are, we have all gathered together to show our support here today.”

He believed “thousands” had turned out at the counter-protest. “We came together as a community. This is what it is all about. It is about love. As an openly gay, bi man, I couldn’t be who I was in our society for many a year. I was beaten up.

“Society in 2015 said yes to us. That is what society is all of us. It is about love. What we have done today is come together. There is no hatred in who we are.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times