Empowerment

Eimhear O'Neill: Brexit Could End the Peace That Women Won for Northern Ireland

Women helped bring peace to Northern Ireland—and a new documentary tells their stories.

“I’m so proud to have directed the film ‘Wave Goodbye to Dinosaurs,” filmmaker Eimhear O’Neill explained. “The film tells the story of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, a political party made up entirely of women from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds.”

The women in the film discuss the role they played in helping to bring an international peace agreement known as the Good Friday Agreement that changed the political landscape.

Northern Ireland suffered 30 years of guerrilla war they called “The Troubles.” More than 3,500 died in fighting over whether to stay part of the UK or become part of the Republic of Ireland. But there was a group of women who, for decades across The Troubles, created change through activism and grassroots politics.  

“When the women announced they were running for election and their campaign slogan was ‘Wave goodbye to dinosaurs,’ a lot of the male politicians in Ireland and Northern Ireland reacted to the Women’s Coalition saying, ‘How dare you call us dinosaurs?’ To which the Women’s Coalition replied, ‘We are not calling you dinosaurs, but if you wish to self-identify, please go ahead,’” O’Neill explained.

With the UK leaving the EU, people are worried that could return putting the peace in the region in jeopardy.

“When Brexit happens, the UK will suddenly have a land border with the EU stretching across 310 miles between the North and the South of Ireland,” O’Neill said. “No one really knows what’s going to happen to it.”