The story behind the photo that came to symbolise Ireland's abortion referendum.

This week most Irish women are celebrating a monumental victory for human rights – access to abortions in their own country when they want them.

During this campaign, a photo came to symbolise the fight for access to this basic procedure and the women behind it.

Photo by Alastair Moore, courtesy of London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign.

But it might surprise all those who have been sharing it on social media these past few weeks that the photo was actually taken in 2016 - before the referendum was even announced.

The photographer Alastair Moore and the photo's feature subject - Hannah Little - have shared the story behind this powerful image.

Hannah - the woman in the orange jumper - organised the march of 77 women holding suitcases to symbolise the nine to 11 women a day who travelled from Ireland and Northern Ireland, usually to England, to access abortions. It was just one part of a protest involving hundreds of women outside the Irish embassy in London.

"While 35,000 people joined the March for Choice in Dublin, several hundred London-Irish gathered outside the Irish Embassy to demand a repeal of the Eighth Amendment," she told Mamamia on Tuesday.

"We had met at the same spot in 2012 to mourn the loss of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died in an Irish hospital from a septic miscarriage after being denied a termination."

Hannah told Mamamia that London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign - the group she co-founded and has been tirelessly campaigning for the referendum - was actually formed out of that protest.

"I booked a room for 30 people in the hope of forming a committee to form the basis of the group. Within 24-hours of announcing our first open meeting, over 300 people had signed up to attend.


"This just displays how engaged and determined the Irish diaspora were in this referendum campaign."

That's despite Hannah not having been able to vote in the referendum because she had been living out of the country for more than 18 months, nulling her right to vote.

Meanwhile, Alastair, who captured the image, told Indy100. that he'd brought his camera to the protest "by chance".

"When they started moving, the sound of the luggage wheels on the footpath was deafening. It was incredibly impactful - it had this feeling of a growing momentum and anger at injustice, but it was so civil," he described.

As they completed one lap of the block he decided to get a photo of them coming around the corner, but only later did he realise just how poignant the moment he captured was.

"It wasn't until I got home that I realised that every single woman had the same determined look on their face. A really powerful scene to witness."

"I'm just glad I decided to bring my camera along and got to witness the start of a movement."

Hannah said the campaign achieved a major milestone on Sunday when results came through that Ireland had voted to repeal the eighth amendment that made abortion a criminal act - something she was "deeply relieved" about. However she would still be working to ensure Northern Ireland women had access to the same healthcare.

"I am proud to say that two-thirds of Irish voters support a woman's right to choice. Yesterday's overwhelmingly positive result can only mean a bright future for women in Ireland."