The Dáil and Seanad debates on the Eighth Amendment commenced on the 17th January and continued for much of the following week. For the most part, pro-life voices were absent as leaders and prospective leaders of all the main Parties jostled with each other to present themselves as the face of modern Ireland ahead of the inevitable Dáil elections. A cynic might say, Repealing the 8th Amendment, is the new the Marriage Equality, and if you want to be on the right side of the media love-in at the other side, you had better put your best “progressive” foot forward now!
One “bravely” flip-flopped into line with the Irish Times editorial opinion and steal a march on Taoiseach Varadkar. Another launched a blistering attack on the Catholic Church, the best lines of which were an ‘entirely coincidental’ word-for-word replication of an article on IrishCentral.com. Most of the rest were drearily predictable, “trust women to make decisions on their own bodies” or “abortion happens anyway, so let’s legalise it” variety. Scant regard for the lives of the unborn or the rights of anyone other than themselves.
Then on the evening of 24th January, came the turn of Sinn Féin TD, Peadar Tóibín (a definite favourite around these parts). Using logic and reason, Tóibín eloquently reframed the debate in terms of Human Rights conflict. That is where this debate belongs.
View the whole speech below:
Tóibín concluded his speech with:
“Life should not be just for the rich, the fortunate, the planned and the perfect. We all live under the same sky. We are all responsible for each other, no matter how frail, small or vulnerable. Surely we must fight for a society that leaves no mother or child behind.”