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Street art by Maser in Dublin | ©William Murphy/Flickr
Street art by Maser in Dublin | ©William Murphy/Flickr
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Dublin Street Art Goes Digital For Abortion Rights

Picture of Kate Phelan
Updated: 6 August 2016
The fight to Repeal the 8th continues to build in Ireland, where the 1983 Eighth Amendment of the Constitution still deems the right to life of the unborn as equal to that of the mother. When a Dublin mural in support of the increasingly visible public campaign to repeal this amendment was removed due to complaints, these activists were forced to get even more creative.

The idea for the mural came from The HunReal Issues, an Irish website dedicated to bringing important social and political issues to the mainstream. They commissioned renowned Dublin street artist, Maser, to paint the artwork on the wall of the photogenic Project Arts Centre building in Temple Bar, hoping it would be extensively shared on social media.

After its unveiling on July 8th their wish quickly came true: Within a week, Instagram was rife with photos of supporters posing next to the heart-shaped design. But the outpouring of love was quickly followed by a predictable backlash from the pro-life campaign, who lodged complaints about the graphic with the Project Arts Centre. An official warning was also given to the multidisciplinary arts venue by the Dublin City Council, who declared to the work to be in violation of the Planning and Development Act. Before the month was out, the mural had been painted over.

But artists have never responded well to censorship. Protests began in earnest among ‘Repeal the 8th’ backers and supporters of the arts, with people painting their faces in blue and posing for photos at the former mural site. Bolstered by the accompanying outcry, the campaign came up with a genius workaround to the problem: Visitors to the Project Arts Centre can now use their Android phone to see the mural brought back to life in Augmented Reality. A visit to the website reveals a QR code that brings up a digital version on the distinctive blue wall once more.

Meanwhile, in the real world, replicas of the mural have been springing up all around the city, both on buildings – notably in the windows of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties – and everywhere from t-shirts to jewellery, from badges to doughnuts. Complementary ideas like the Repeal Project’s outerwear line are gaining momentum, too. It would appear that ‘Repeal the 8th’ isn’t going anywhere.