WATCH: Clare Daly gave an incredibly passionate speech in the Dáil in the wake of the referendum result
"Politicians haven't led on this issue. We haven't even followed until recently."
Independents4Change TD Clare Daly addressed those present in the Dáil on Tuesday afternoon with a searing speech just days after the country overwhelmingly voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution.
Daly was speaking as part of a debate on the outcome of the referendum.
At the beginning of an address that would ultimately draw applause from those in attendance, Daly described Ireland's attitude to abortion as the "ball and chain that dogged us all our adult life" and acknowledged her own daughter's efforts in helping the Yes vote to win the day.
"For so many people, the weekend's vote was just like an enormous weight being lifted, a ball and chain that dogged us all our adult life being finally gone," Daly said.
"And I can't believe that I am 50 years of age and it's taken this long. It's taken my daughter to come home for her first vote to get us here.
"I think for so many women, it represented so much. It's almost like society atoning for everything it has done for women in this country, atoning for how we stigmatise women faced with crisis pregnancies. The Magdalene Laundries. The Mother-and-Baby homes. The shaming. The forced adoptions. The robbed identities that we're going to hear about later on this afternoon, it still goes on."
Clip via Clare Daly
The Dublin Fingal TD spoke of those who were the first to raise the issue at government level in 2012, when she along with Mick Wallace and Joan Collins, introduced abortion legislation that was met with the support of only 20 TDs.
Daly hailed the "four incredible women [who] went on The Late Late Show, the first time people in this State openly identified themselves as people who travelled for terminations," who later had terminations for medical reasons.
"And isn't it appalling that they and their colleagues had to lay bare their most appalling pain and tragedy in order to turn that into a social movement that changed history?" asked Daly.
"They shouldn't have had to do that, and I am absolutely in awe of them and of their colleagues who took part in this campaign," she added.
Later, Daly would single out activist Ailbhe Smyth as "a giant in terms of this movement who stood there when there was no glory to be had" before turning her attention to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris, both of whom were present.
"I acknowledge your role, Taoiseach, genuinely, and you, Minister Harris.
"It took ye a while to get there. I have no doubt that you were helped by Minister (Katherine) Zappone at the Cabinet and Deputy (Kate) O'Connell at the parliamentary party - I'm not sure you would have got there as quick without them, but you were at the helm, and you did steer the ship, and history will testify that you delivered, and I thank you for that.
"But let's be honest here," Daly continued. "Politicians haven't led on this issue. We haven't even followed until recently. This has been an uphill battle, pushing a boulder up a hill for decades, and nobody in here was involved in pushing it up."
Finally, Daly addressed the students and young citizens of Ireland.
"I'm proud of the student movement," she said.
"I was one of those students years ago, and we didn't succeed in changing the world, but I really hope that this generation does, because the young people who mobilised and enfranchised their members; they're the legends out of this, and I hope they make a better job of changing the world than we did."