The campaign for abortion rights in Northern Ireland reached new heights yesterday when the issue was taken to the fourth plinth of London’s Trafalgar Square.
Alliance for Choice in Northern Ireland were responsible for the publicity stunt which sent a woman to the top of the plinth with banners and a strong message about the rights of women in Northern Ireland seeking an abortion.
For more than 40 years women here have had to pay to travel to parts of England because abortion is banned in Northern Ireland. As well as taking their protest to the plinth, Alliance for Choice wanted to take it one step further by highlighting how difficult it is for a woman to travel to England.
Chair of Alliance for Choice in NI Goretti Horgan, who was originally allocated a place on the fourth plinth, explained: “It is not fair that women from here have to travel to England, which involves taking days off work, paying for the flight and accommodation and all the other unnecessary hassle.
“For me to take the campaign to London would have involved the same hassle, so I had an idea that I would switch places with an English women in order to symbolise that we are not prepared to put up with this. But, of course, switching is not allowed.”
Ms Horgan got in contact with comedian Kate Smurthwaite, who is involved in campaigning for abortion rights all over the UK, who agreed to take her place. Yesterday morning Ms Smurthwaite had to produce photographic ID and proof of address to show that she was Goretti Horgan, despite being 20 years her junior.
She said: “Thankfully they were pretty busy in the office so no-one noticed the difference, even though I had concocted a whole story as to why I had an English accent.”