Abortion rights activist Goretti Horgan shares her dream dinner party guests to set the world to rights

Abortion rights activist Goretti Horgan shares her dream dinner party guests to set the world to rights

Cork native Goretti Horgan is a lecturer in social policy at Ulster University and a child poverty and abortion rights activist. She carries out extensive research to publish studies and reports on both these subjects in partnership with NGOs. Goretti tells us the five dinner guests that she would invite to help her put the world to rights.  

Kate Tempest – because her poetry really ‘gets’ how growing up in poverty in a society where there is also huge wealth. This poem about the “Cannibal Kids” who rioted in East London in 2011 is a great example: Check it out here.

Katha Pollitt, American feminist and author of the book Pro which argues that abortion should be seen as a “social good”, as opposed to something women should be ashamed of – surely it’s good for society that no woman is forced to give birth and that every child is a wanted child?

Fiona Ferguson, a young activist from Belfast who has the confidence to go on the BBC and stand up for radical and pro-choice politics….at her age, there is no way I’d have had that nerve!

Brid Smith, People Before Profit TD who held up a packet of abortion pills in the Dáil and told women where to get them. The feminist websites that supply pills to women in Ireland tell me that her action gave this information to many women for the first time.

Eamonn McCann who has been an activist for civil and women’s rights for over 50 years and my partner since 1984; he inspires me every day to keep on keeping on to “put the world to rights”.


Pictured above: Goretti speaking at the March for Choice in Dublin in Sept 2016

Women for Refugee Women: Empowering those who have fled across borders

Women for Refugee Women: Empowering those who have fled across borders

As our 8×8 Festival continues this week in NUI Maynooth, Women for Refugee Women write for us about the work that they do to help refugee women rebuild their lives. 

Women for Refugee Women works in the belief that every woman who crosses borders in search of safety deserves a fair hearing and a chance to rebuild her life. Each week, over 100 refugee and asylum-seeking women come to us for English lessons, therapeutic activities such as drama and yoga, advice and nutritious lunches.

The women involved say:

“Women for Refugee Women helps me to understand my potential; who I am, what I can accomplish. They allow me to be in my element with people around me who are likeminded.”

Coming here makes me feel empowered. Before I was in darkness. Now I have learnt so much. Women for Refugee Women is like family to me. Here we can get ideas from each other about how to improve our situations.”

The asylum system in the UK is set up in a way that means many vulnerable women are detained in immigration detention centres like Yarl’s Wood or end up living destitute. Women seeking safety are dehumanised: disbelieved, locked up, plunged into poverty and isolated. Our #SetHerFree campaign calls for an end to the routine use of indefinite detention, which is deeply traumatic and distressing.

We enable asylum-seeking women, who are so often unseen and unheard, to build their confidence and communication skills in order to tell their own stories. They have used their voices to inform a range of audiences, including urging policy makers to build a fairer asylum system.

We’ve had some major breakthroughs, for example there is now a 72-hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women. But detention is still a routine administrative process in this country and we need your support to change this!

You can help by:

  • Giving or fundraising – we rely on the generous donations of our supporters to run these activities for refugee women. Please donate here or contact admin@refugeewomen.co.uk if you’d like to take part in a sponsored challenge for us!
  • Spreading the word:  Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to share refugee and asylum-seeking women’s stories, or why not host an event? We can provide flyers, films and even speakers.
  • Volunteer: We are often looking for people to help out with our English lessons, social media or on creative projects.
  • Stay in touch: Sign up to our mailing list here.

The 8×8 Festival continues this week in NUI Maynooth. Check out their Facebook event page here for more information about what’s on this week.


Safe Haven: plain sailing for refugees and Irish communities

Safe Haven: plain sailing for refugees and Irish communities

STAND’s 8×8 Festival continues this week in NUI Maynooth, with an exhibition that highlights the challenges faced by refugees around the world. Safe Haven Ireland write for us about the work that they do here in Ireland to promote integration between refugees and other communities through sailing. 

Safe Haven Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation which brings together young people from diverse backgrounds, including asylum seekers and refugees, to learn how to sail. Our aim is to promote integration between communities in Ireland as well as empower young people at risk of exclusion.

Our sailing project provides opportunities for young people to take part in voyages along the Irish coastline. The trainees recruited by Safe Haven Ireland come together to undertake the experience of a lifetime: a week or more at sea as the crew of a Tall Ship. Each of our voyages has a mixture of participants from different backgrounds. We prioritise young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, such as migrants and refugees. We offer places to Irish-national participants, often from inner city areas, who would not otherwise have this kind of opportunity.

During their time on board the participants learn how to sail a ship and how to navigate in challenging Irish coastal waters, making their own decisions about what course to plot over the week. In the process they learn the vital importance of working as a team 24-hours a day, as they take the helm, raise and lower sails, stand watches, cook for each other and keep the vessel ship-shape.


Each group of young people step onto the boat as its passengers and disembark as its crew. To date, our project has developed positive intercultural relations in Ireland by impacting the lives of more than 80 young people. Our programme enables the participants to gain much more than sailing skills. They build strong bonds with each other by virtue of a shared experience, which in many cases will go on to have a profound influence in the rest of their lives. The young people
educate each other about their backgrounds and different cultures and together forge a new vision for their shared futures on the island of Ireland.

The 8×8 Festival continues this week in NUI Maynooth. Check out their Facebook event page here for more information about what’s on this week.

Want to take action? Check out our semester one events round up

Want to take action? Check out our semester one events round up

Want to take action and make this college year count? We’ve got you covered with a wide range of events for every month of semester one, so jump in and get involved.

September – March for Choice.This year’s 6th Annual March for choice takes place on Saturday 30th September. The March begins at the Garden of Remembrance at 1.30pm, before culminating at the Dáil at 2pm.

October – IAmIrish – Exhibition and Conversation.This celebration of mixed race Irish identity takes place on Wednesday 25th October in Axis Ballymun at 7pm.

November – Dublin Run in the Dark.This year’s run takes place on Tuesday 14th November to raise money in the hopes of fast tracking a cure for paralysis. The multi location event begins at Custom House at 8pm.

December – Santa Dash Dublin. Raise money for a good cause and have fun too. Santa Dash Dublin takes place on Sunday December 3rd at the beach on North Bull Island in Clontarf from 2-5pm. Everyone who takes part gets a Santa suit, with kids getting a free present from Santa in his igloo!

January – DSPCA Volunteer Oreintation. On Saturday 6th January 2018 the DSPCA are holding an orientation for new and potential volunteers at the DSPCA Rescue Centre in Rathfarnham at 11:00am. But don’t worry if you miss this one, they hold orientations on the first Saturday of every month.

Photo Credit: DSPCA

“I made a conscious decision around that time that this challenge life had put in my way would not rule me”: Jack Kavanagh talks accessibility in our fair city

“I made a conscious decision around that time that this challenge life had put in my way would not rule me”: Jack Kavanagh talks accessibility in our fair city

Aged 20 I felt as though I had the world at my feet. I worked as a lifeguard and windsurfing instructor during the summers while I studied Pharmacy in college. I was free and easy and at a place in life where I was very content in myself. In a moment all of that changed. I ran down the beach in Portugal on the first day of my holidays and dived into the water. I didn’t anticipate how shallow it was and when I hit the bottom I broke my neck. As a result I was paralysed from the armpits down with limited use of my arms and hands but I haven’t allowed that to stand in my way.

I made it my goal to get back to college after completing my rehabilitation. 13 months post injury and after a lot of hard work I found myself back in Trinity College and living away from home, independence to a certain extent was returning. I made a conscious decision around that time that this challenge life had put in my way would not rule me but that I would learn and grow from it. It has taken time to understand how to negotiate both the mental and physical aspects of coming to terms with such a change in my way of life.

I truly believe the only thing that enables or disables any person in this world is the environment in which they exist. However it was only on having to navigate the world on a daily basis using a wheelchair once I was back in college that I realised just how many obstacles there are in our world for wheelchair users. From something simple like hills, which  I never noticed before, to footpaths that are all sloped towards the road and which are quite often blocked by bins, lamp posts and other obstacles. Also road crossings that aren’t ramped to meet the street to some more prohibitive issues like having to book trains and buses 24-48 hours in advance just so you can use a public service that anyone else can just hop on and off. On the flip side I have to say that cities in Ireland have made dramatic improvements over the last few years in terms of the Luas in Dublin and the extent to which taxis are now wheelchair accessible. This is huge in terms of leveling the playing field for everyone.

I previously mentioned that it is only the environment in which we exist that enables or disables us, I have seen this first hand over the past few years in my travels in the US and around Europe. Only this summer in Holland I had the luxury of only having to call an hour in advance to organise a ramp for the trains giving me huge flexibility and freedom. In London I found that the simple solution of slightly raising part of the metro platform made the entrance level for both wheelchair users and mothers with prams and that the London buses have fantastic entry system from the middle door of the bus allowing a buggy or wheelchair direct access to the reserved spot. On the west coast of the US there is no need to pre-book a wheelchair assistance as the conductor of the train simply jumps off and puts out a ramp, easy! In New York the subway is fantastic which makes navigating the city very doable. 

There are some things we do well in Ireland, particularly over the past number of years, but there are a huge number of simple solutions to what are currently prohibitive obstacles for many wheelchair users, elderly people as well as mothers with buggies. If we design public infrastructure so it can be navigated by these groups then it will function well for other groups within society too.

Get involved this EU Mobility Week and write to TDs and your local council to address these issues. Our cities need to be inclusive and accessible to all. You can also check out Jack’s motivational TEDx Tallaght Talk here.

Refugees denied right to work, but will that soon change?

Refugees denied right to work, but will that soon change?

In Ireland, asylum seekers do not have the right to work while they are in the asylum process. On 30 May 2017, the Supreme Court considered the indefinite prohibition on the right of a person to work during this time.The man who brought the case had spent more than eight years in the asylum procedure and had experienced depression and frustration due to not being able to work.

The Supreme Court held that work is connected to the dignity and freedom of individuals and that the complete ban was not justified and contrary to the constitutional right to seek employment. The Court’s final order was postponed for six months to allow the Government to respond. We would encourage people to lobby at a local level by writing to their TDs, Senators and Ministers about this issue. Read More