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Hundreds attend Bread & Roses Festival of Socialist Feminism in Dublin

More than 250 people attended the Bread & Roses Festival of Socialist Feminism organised by ROSA / ROSA NI that took place in Dublin on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 June, 2022.

Youthful attendees discussed in about trans liberation, the worldwide struggle for abortion rights, global capitalism’s inflicting of a cost of living crisis on the working and poor masses, anti-war socialist feminists in history, the work of socialist feminist anthropologists and more in packed workshops & plenaries over two days.

Eight different workshops and four different plenaries had speakers and chairpersons from ROSA Socialist Feminist Movement in Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Sligo and Limerick, as well as many guest speakers.

The context of an uptick in homophobic and transphobic violence across the island of Ireland, as well as a right wing backlash internationally against #MeToo, against the trans community, and the threat to Roe V Wade in the US, all were the backdrop that pushed attendance amongst those looking to fight back.

Socialist feminists, gender violence and abortion rights campaigners, and trade unionists guest speaker activists joining us on zoom and in-person including from as far as the US and Mexico all added to the event immensely, as well as the artists who performed at the gig that completed the festival.

Those participating left the event with a clear sense of purpose.

Haley who participated in the event said:

"This was my first Bread & Roses since joining up with ROSA last month and the event was fantastic! It was incredible to see the massive turnout and it fully solidified my commitment to the socialist feminist movement”.

As well as building contingents at all the upcoming Pride events, ROSA activists will be working to assist Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin in building for its march in Dublin on Saturday 16 July. A further Trans Pride is planned for Limerick for that day, and hopefully other areas. The urgency and necessity of these actions have only been emphasised in the days since the Bread and Roses festival with RTE shamefully given day after day of a platform to hateful and dangerous transphobic bigotry on the Joe Duffy radio show.

Finally, packed plenary sessions at the Bread and Roses Festival voted to endorse the idea of ROSA initiating the plans for a march on the hugely significant decade anniversary of the tragic, untimely death of Savita Halappanavar. In October 2012 Savita died from sepsis in a Galway hospital after being refused an abortion. It was a personal catastrophe for her family and friends. For the general public, it sparked outrage, igniting a new abortion rights movement and, after a campaign for five years, the agreement to hold a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment.

Speaking at the festival, Ruth Coppinger made an appeal to young people, feminists, trade unionists, LGBTQ activists to support the idea of a demonstration to mark Savita’s anniversary:

“After hundreds attending our Bread and Roses Festival in which the idea was enthusiastically endorsed, ROSA is proposing the idea of a march from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dail at 1pm on Saturday 29 October, 10 years after the death of Savita, both to commemorate her and to restate what we vowed following her death— ‘Never Again’. The issues that flowed from Savita’s death are still pressing. Repeal and the subsequent abortion law has been a seminal achievement, but limits in the law and access are leaving people behind. 375 people had to travel for abortions to England and Wales in 2019; only one in 10 GPs are providing abortion services; only 10 of the 19 maternity hospitals.

Furthermore, the debacle of the National Maternity Hospital shows that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens are unwilling /unable to stand up to the church. This was the first maternity hospital established since repeal and an epic fail for social progress.

Despite an epidemic of gender based and homophobic violence, as we’ve seen graphically this year with the murders of Ashling Murphy, Michael Snee and Aidan Moffitt, nothing has been done to provide comprehensive sex education in all schools that is LGBT-inclusive and consent-focused.”

Laura Fitzgerald of ROSA Socialist Feminist Movement, an organiser of the Bread and Roses Festival went on to explain that:

“We are reaching out to Savita’s family who made a profound appeal in favour of the repeal campaign about the proposed march to commemorate the 10th anniversary of their cruel loss, and to mark the moment also with a demonstration pushing for change and progress today. We also must march in the context that globally there is a pushback against abortion and bodily autonomy, most strikingly in the US where the 50-year Roe V Wade ruling is being dismantled and LGBT+ rights are being attacked by an emboldened religious right.”

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