Feminist activists stage protest at Henry Street Garda Station

SOCIALIST feminist group ROSA held a protest outside Henry Street Garda Station on Friday calling on gardaí to drop a fine issued to the organisation following a previous demonstration.

A ROSA spokesperson said Friday’s protest was held “to highlight the ongoing scandal of cancelling 999 calls by An Garda Síochána as well as attempts by the police and the State to fine ROSA members in Limerick for participating in a safe, socially-distanced protest against gender violence”.

The group is now organising a further protest in Limerick to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Thursday November 25.

An activist with ROSA, Caitríona Ní Chatháin, explained: “It’s clear what we’re up against is systemic misogyny from the State and the establishment in Ireland. This time last year we were protesting the attempt by this Government to seal the Mother and Baby Homes archive.

“This year we have had gardaí cancelling 999 calls, the outing of harassment and sexual violence in the Defence Forces, the handing over of the National Maternity Hospital to the Sisters of Charity, and Government politicians involved in sexist WhatsApp groups. It’s clear that every aspect of the State perpetuates sexism, misogyny, racism, LGBTQ-phobia and gender violence. It must be challenged.”

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Campaigners in Limerick say they feel particularly aggrieved, claiming that they have “been targeted by the gardaí”.

Another activist, Steph Lacey, commented: “In the first known charge of its kind under the Public Health Act Covid regulations, members of ROSA have been fined up to €500 and face prosecution over safe, outdoor protests highlighting gender violence during the pandemic.

“This was because ROSA called a small but vital socially-distanced protest demanding emergency action against the ‘shadow pandemic’ of gender violence following the murder of Sarah Everard. ROSA will mount a full challenge to these prosecutions, and we are today calling on the gardaí to drop the fines.”

ROSA is calling on people in Limerick to support their protest on November 25.

“On November 25 we will be demanding that the system stops blaming victims and will be calling time on all sexism and misogyny. Concrete steps would include emergency action by government to combat sexism including trebling of all domestic violence and survivors’ services; sex education roll-out centring on consent, challenging misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia,” said Ms Ní Chatháin.

She concluded: “We think that trade unions have an important role to play and follow the lead by workers in tech companies like Google who have organised walkouts against sexism. The trade union movement must organise all workers and launch a campaign, including strike action, for a €15 minimum wage and sexual harassment free workplaces. And drop the charges against ROSA activists who were fined for safe, socially distanced protests highlighting the gender violence shadow pandemic.”