Interviewed by Geraldine Carton
The images and jumpers have probably made their way to your feeds over the past few months, but the message has been at the forefront of our minds for years. Repeal Project seeks to bring the repeal the 8th campaign to a wider audience and raise funds for Abortion Rights Campaign in Ireland through the sale of jumpers bearing the simple and powerful insignia ‘Repeal’. It’s an old fundraising trick, but a solid one, since already demand for the jumpers has gone worldwide even though the project has yet to launch.
As part of a new series of interviews with creatives and activists we’ll be running here at Guts, it seems only appropriate to start with the woman behind the campaign that has captured the anger and the protest that we ourselves have felt over recent years.
We spoke to the wonderful Anna Cosgrave ahead of the official launch of Repeal Project this evening in Indigo & Cloth in Dublin.
Why did you set up Repeal Project?
I set it up because I feel I need to vindicate the rights of Irish women in the face of a constitutional ban on abortion which I believe is inhumane and barbaric. I wanted to reflect the public opinion and deflect the political discourse as it just was not telling of the real life situation.
In one sentence what is the purpose of Repeal Project?
It’s an outerwear project meant to give voice to a hidden problem
Was there any particular moment that motivated you to take on this project?
It was the vigil for Savita Halappanavar in 2012, and it was seeing Gloria Steinem wear a t-shirt saying “I had an abortion”.
What’s been your experience wearing these jumpers around Dublin?
Overwhelmingly positive. People are dying to be able to engage because this is a conversation that has been shrouded in so much guilt and stigma over the years. Wearing the jumper is like when we wore the badges for YES equality, there’s this little reaction, this smirk of solidarity.
How would you describe - the current state of Ireland with this ruling in place; the potential rejection of the repeal; the potential passing of the repeal?
Currently it’s inhumane, barbaric and unfair. If it passes, it will be the right thing, it will be fair, and about time. If it is not passed it’s stilted and disappointing, but it’s still progress because at least we’ve opened up the discourse.
What have been the best and the worst experiences to come out of this project for you?
The best is knowing that you’re going to be on the right side of history and seeing how many people actually want this to happen. The worst is just being worried about standing up and standing out. There’s definitely been a few moments where I’ve felt grossly nervous.
If you could have any one person walking around wearing your jumper, who would it be?
It would be someone who I actually haven’t met, a woman who has made the lonely journey, or someone who finds comfort in knowing that this subject is now being talked about.
Repeal Project launches on June 30th, 7pm at Indigo&Cloth, Temple Bar. A pop-up shop will be in Indigo&Cloth from July 1-3.