IMELDA's Homecoming

Every year Irish emigrants return to Ireland for the Christmas holidays, as TV and radio stations flock to airport terminals and ferry ports to record emotional homecomings to make heart-warming Christmas programmes. The actions featured below outline the IMELDAS' use of their festive homecoming from England to highlight the daily journeys made by those forced to leave the country to access safe and legal abortions.

‘A Sup of Choice for Christmas’ on the sail and rail route from London to Dublin  
20th December 2014

In 2014, we travelled by train and boat to Ireland, offering sups of choice from teapots to fellow travelers reminiscent of the housekeeper Mrs. Doyle in the well-known television series Father Ted. We presented passengers with our specially designed pro-choice stickers from inside our teapots, inviting them to ‘sticker-bomb’ the various parts of Ireland that they were traveling to over the festive period. We also distributed an educational colouring-in sheet for passengers to pass the time with, which demonstrated the difference between vessels and women. In Dublin we made our arrival known by hanging a huge pair of knickers outside Dáil Éireann (Irish Assembly), carrying the message ‘women are not breeding machines.’ This message referenced our dismay at a case that was going through the Irish courts that Christmas, which again demonstrated the cruelty caused by the 8th Amendment. This case concerned a clinically dead pregnant woman, who was being kept on life-support, against her family’s wishes. Doctors cited the 8th Amendment as the reason that a dead woman, who had been seventeen weeks pregnant, was kept on a life support machine until the courts ruled that the machine could be turned off.

 Angels at the Airport in collaboration with the Choicemas Carol Singers   
21st December 2015

In 2015, we strolled around Dublin airport in our red costumes, dressed as nativity-play angels, complete with red-tinseled halos. Holding up a sign that said ‘Welcome Home IMELDA’, we drew attention to the fact that some of the arrivals would be returning from having an abortion abroad, with resentment rather than love in their hearts for ‘the old sod’. The disruption of tradition continued with the placing of a miniature model of a Christmas angel decoration, disguised as an abortion seeker with her trademark red suitcase, into the airport’s Christmas crib. To ensure that the state would know that offence was intended, we tied tampons dipped in red ink, to simulate menstruation, bearing the slogan ‘Repeal the 8th’ to O’Connell Street's Christmas tree – a centre-piece of Dublin's festivities. We rounded off our return with a rendition of pro-choice carols under the iconic Clery’s clock in collaboration with local pro-choice activists from the Choicemas Carol Singers.