Róisín Meets: Yes Equality activist Gráinne Healy

‘Entrenched positions’ on abortion ensures a tougher campaign than marriage equality

Yes Equality activist Gráinne Healy has said that tactics developed in the same sex referendum campaign can be used by campaigners for abortion rights.

“The polling, finding out what the issues that people will change their mind on, getting the story out. And we unashamedly did the celebrity endorsement,” says Healy. “I think more people need to step up and say, ‘I think this is a right women should have in Ireland’,”

She adds: “I think the personal stories are a part of our campaign that can be used. We ran a positive joyous campaign, I don’t know if you can do that on this issue.”

Tough ask

Speaking on this week’s Róisín Meets podcast, Healy says “entrenched positions” on abortion will make it a more difficult campaign to win than marriage equality.

“There’s a big difference. A lot of people came to the Yes Equality campaign and they had honestly never thought about marriage equality before that date,” she says.

“I think that meant we didn’t have one of the challenges for Repeal the Eighth, where we have over 30 years of a very polarised debate on the issue. People who established their positions . . . 18, 20 or 30 years ago, are still holding some of those positions”.

Healy says a new book about the Yes Equality campaign can help other campaigners understand how to win a referendum. “I guess we decided we would do a ‘here’s the seams of the jumper’, so that people could have a look at what we did behind the scenes”.