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Rallying for Choice in Belfast
ireland / britain | gender | opinion / analysis Saturday October 14, 2017 00:31 by Kellie - Workers Solidarity Movement andrewnflood at gmail dot com
On 14th October 2017, Rally for Choice will march through the streets of Belfast. - Last year saw us counter protest the Rally for Life in the North of Ireland, for the first time we marched against their lies instead of our usual static demo. Our counter protest was a huge success, despite being organised at short notice and with only a handful of activists. The protest burst across our streets and convened at Buoy Park afterwards for speakers. We outnumbered the Rally for Life 2016 significantly.
This year, with heightened urgency, even more organisers have come together to have a stand-alone march. We do not need Rally for Life to galvanise us. We are here, in huge numbers, and we are angry.
Rally for Choice is a revolutionary, grassroots, feminist organisation of ordinary people who have come together to make our voices heard. We have an anarchist structure and strive for a horizontal organising arrangement where everyone is equal. Roles are rotated so that no one becomes burned out or takes on too much. We try to avoid terms like manager or leader, and use co-ordinator instead. Our structure is very inspired by the Workers Solidarity Movement.
Organising a Rally for Choice in the North has been a complex but liberating process. We have gathered into sub-groups for Social Media, Outreach and Fundraising, as well as the official paperwork that comes with holding a protest in Belfast, plus we have strong branding which is very important (as we learn from any episode of The Apprentice). We have been meeting weekly to fortnightly since May 2017.
There are only two places in the city where we are officially allowed to gather without Public Liability Insurance (PLI): outside Queen's University and City Hall. Neither of these are large enough for the Rally for Choice. Buoy Park (officially known as Cathedral Gardens) is free to use, but we need permission from Belfast City Council and we must purchase PLI. Other places in the city require gatherings to pay. Paying to protest isn't something we should have to do.
We have encountered so much resistance from Belfast City Council, that it has been hard to avoid the impression that they are trying to silence us. One of our events, Picnic for Choice in Botanic Gardens, was declined permission at 4pm the day before it was held.
Any march in the North requires a notification to be sent to the Parades Commission. They don't grant permission per se, but they must be notified. They can put restrictions on the march and we will have to have an official meeting with them 10 days before the Rally. The Rally can be classified as 'contentious' up to 14 days before. This will require more meetings and paperwork.
The City Centre PSNI will also be informed ahead of the day.
Please follow us to keep up to date.
We have an excellent video about why we are doing this, and there is another one coming soon...
As it's incredibly close to all our hearts, we want to include and involve as many people as possible. We've sent information packs to Women's Centres and Groups across the province. We've held pro-choice information stalls to distribute leaflets in Belfast and in Tyrone. One of the reasons why we chose October is that we want people from the March for Choice in Dublin on 30th September 2017 to be inspired, and come and support us in the North! We want everyone to come to Rally for Choice. We don't want this to be just Belfast. We want this to represent people Ireland-wide.
We will use this kindness wisely. Holding a successful Rally is expensive. As well as the leaflets, posters, stickers, public liability insurance and outlay for merchandise, we also want to make a huge purple banner and have some purple surprises for a bit of atmosphere on the 14th October.