The Repeal Debate

by Emma Nolan

Following last Saturday’s March for Choice which saw more than 40,000 people take to the streets of Dublin, The Gazette asked City councillors and TDs for their stance on next year’s abortion referendum.

Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that a referendum on the eight amendment, which states that the right to life of the mother and the unborn child are equal, will take place in May or June 2018.

Under the current law, a woman can face up to 14 years in prison for having an abortion in Ireland. However, around 11 women each day travel from Ireland to the UK to access terminations.

The Gazette asked TDs and councillors for their position on this divisive issue. Every single councillor and TD in Dublin City Council was contacted – here are the ones that replied at the time of going to print.

Cllr Dermot Lacey (Lab): “I campaigned against the 1983 Amendment. The wording was wrong, the purpose was wrong and the politics was appallingly cowardly.

“We need to repeal the 8th and allow the Oireachtas to do its job properly which is to ensure that proper health care is afforded to all women.”

Cllr Chris Andrews (SF): “I support repeal the 8th not replace. I support repeal because I believe women have the right to decide and we shouldn’t be exporting the issue to England.”

Cllr Anne Feeney (FG): “I am in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment from the Constitution, but only if we put in place well informed and responsible legislation. I am pro-choice and pro-life and I see no conflict with this stance – it is not a black and white issue.
Cllr Michael O’Brien (Solidarity): “I am 100% for the repeal of the 8th amendment and for legislation that will allow for abortion in all crisis pregnancy situations. I happen to the councillor who brought a motion to this effect to the council in 2015 and achieved majority support among the elected councillors.”

Cllr Mary Freehill (Lab): “I absolutely support repeal of the 8th amendment and have marched and canvassed over the years for it.”

Denise Mitchell TD (SF): “Sinn Fein has made our position clear – we want a repeal of the 8th amendment and the enacting of legislation to allow for terminations, if a woman so chooses, in the case of .”

Cllr Alison Gilliland (Lab): “I support the repeal of the 8th amendment. I believe that the issue of pregnancy termination should be determined by medically based legislation.”
Cllr Cieran Perry (Ind): “I campaigned against the original 8th Amendment in 1983 and I continue to be opposed to an amendment which equates the life of a mother with that of an unborn foetus.

Cllr Andrew Keegan (PBP): “I do support the repeal of the 8th amendment.
“I also support the position that the 8th should not be replaced with any other amendment and women should have full control of their bodily autonomy.”

Cllr Ruairi McGinley (Ind): “I do not support the Repeal the 8th Amendment. I favour restrictive abortion as distinct from abortion on demand. It is difficult to evaluate any proposed referendum until we see the wording.”

Cllr Paul Hand (Ind): “I favour repealing the 8th amendment from the Irish Constitution.”
Tommy Broughan TD (Ind): “Prior to the last General Election, I pledged my support to the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment and do believe that it should be repealed and that the Oireachtas should legislate to address the issues involved.”

Joan Collins TD (Ind): “I support the proposals from the Citizens Assembly and I want the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment and legislation then be introduced to reflect the CA proposals.”

Cllr Jane Horgan Jones (Lab): “I support the repeal of the 8th amendment and its replacement (by way of legislation) with a system that provides for access to abortion in line with European norms.”

Cllr Emma Murphy (FF): “I fully support the repealing of the 8th amendment. The 8th amendment puts my life and the life of all Irish women at risk and must be repealed. Irish women should have access to free, safe & legal abortion here at home.

Brid Smith TD (PBP): “I fully support a referendum on the 8th Amendment to the Constitution and will be advocating in favour of removing the amendment.

“I believe that the question should be put simply and clearly to the people ie: “Do you want to remove article 43.3 from the Constitution?” Answer Yes or No.”

Cllr Pat Dunne (Ind): “I have always been pro-choice and have been involved in left politics all my adult life. “I wish to see the 8th amendment removed from the constitution and progressive abortion laws introduced by the Oireachtas.”

Richard Bruton TD (FG) spokesperson: “This approach [Citizen’s Assembly, Dail Committee] was successfully used in the last Dail to get legislation passed to address the X Case, which had been ignored by the Dail for over 20 years.

“I strongly support this approach to this potentially difficult and divisive issue, on which we need a calm and fair debate..”

Finian McGrath TD (Ind): “Yes, I support the Repeal of the 8th amendment. I am pro-choice.”

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