The result of the May Referendum in Ireland, to repeal and replace the 8th Amendment in the Irish Constitution, was a tragedy and a shock. Since then we have been in a period of reflection and silence, trying to make sense of how and why this came about. The Save the Eighth campaign team cannot be faulted, even as they battled against overwhelming odds. There are many lessons that the CDP can learn from their endeavours. At the All-Ireland Rally for Life, held at Stormont in Belfast, on 7th July the mood was one of determined defiance with the vow to fight even harder in the face of pressures to also make abortion legal in the North. As a direct result of the referendum Gibraltar has now become a target for abortion activists who are seeking to overturn the territory’s pro-life law. The Bishop of Gibraltar has spoken out strongly in defence of the unborn child in the womb. The people have responded and been quick to form the Gibraltar Pro Life Movement. Each Wednesday evening they hold a peaceful vigil outside the offices of the Government of Gibraltar.
Without any prompting, pro-life organisations from the UK and US have rallied to their side with offers of advice and support for this tiny nation. The CDP is proud to stand in solidarity with the GPLM.
As you know; 1,429,981 of Irish voters voted Yes [to repeal the 8th Amendment] or 66.4%, and 723,632 voters or 33.6% voted No. This was an emphatic result and can reasonably be described as a super-majority. Having achieved this result it would have been magnanimous for the Abortion Rights Campaign supporters, gathered at Dublin Castle for the result, to be restrained. Instead we witnessed a massive celebration at the prospect of preborn human beings having their lives ended. Even people who had voted Yes found the scenes distressing and obscene that government ministers were present and actively celebrating the result. It can be safely assumed that those same people would have taken to the streets in protest if the result had been different. These are the same anarchists and socialists who protested on the streets following the 2015 General Election and 2016 Referendum in the UK and the 2016 Presidential Election in the US. They only respect democracy when it gives them what they want. Even more odious was the presence of Sky News and the BBC presenting programmes from Dublin, as if this was a liberation from oppression. Pro-lifers have been dignified in defeat.
Let us look in more detail at the result. The total electorate was 3,367,556 with a turnout of 64.1% [that is 2,159,655 of whom 6,042 spoiled their ballot paper]. That means 1,207,901 or 35.87% of the electorate did not vote and 0.18% spoiled their vote [a total of 36.05%]. 42.46% voted Yes to repeal and 21.49% voted No. It should be of concern that on a matter of life or death 36.05% did not have the guts to make their mark. Also of concern is the revelation that the register was not updated, with the opportunity for multiple voting, and other voting irregularities. However, this would not have altered the result, but it does not instill confidence in the voting system.
Predictably the highest level of support for abortion came from within the Pale, and also from the Dublin overspill in adjoining County Wicklow. This was in the range 74.0% – 78.5%. Dublin is well within the range of BBC broadcasting and influence; they are not called West Brits without reason. The real shock was the level of support for abortion outside the Pale, with only County Donegal voting against. There is no excuse for this, they knew what they were voting for and they will have to live with that on their consciences as the consequences unfold. This is a tragedy of historic proportions.
RTÉ had to demonstrate an unusual level of impartiality during the official campaign period leading up to the Referendum. This was most obvious in the broadcast live debates, when the pro-life speakers won the argument hands-down by sticking rigidly to the truth and giving witness to the humanity of the preborn child. The opposition, often claiming to be pro-life, were consistently in denial of the facts of medicine and science, instead concentrating on the mythical right to abortion and a womans choice. The Irish (and imported British) print media was solidly campaigning [using the word advisedly] for the Repeal side. Only in the letter columns was there any sense of balance. Given this wall of propaganda it was unsurprising that the opinion polls indicated an easy victory for the Abortion Rights Campaign. Closer to Referendum day, and with the opinion polls showing a narrowing of the gap, panic clicked in. Facebook, Google and Twitter clamped down and effectively censored the pro-life message on the internet, where social media had been their best forum. On the streets, pro-life posters were ripped from lampposts and had to be replaced. According to the opinion polls it was too close to call, with expectations of a repeat of the 1995 Divorce Referendum [50.28% Yes and 49.72% No] or even the reverse in favour of No.
The opinion polls of voting intentions got it completely wrong once again, reasoning that people were not telling them the truth or changed their minds in the voting booths. The RTE exit poll was broadly right but also wrong, even after people had voted, predicting 69.4% for Yes and 30.6% for No. It appears people were still not telling the entire truth. The conclusion is that, a) exit polls serve no purpose and are a waste of licence fee payers money, and b) pre-voting polls of intentions are not reliable and only serve the purpose of trying to influence the vote. In both cases they should be banned, although private polling (not for publication) would take place.
The trend in social/moral attitudes in Ireland is clear since 1983 when the Referendum vote was the complete reverse and the 8th Amendment was inserted into the Irish Constitution. The 1995 Divorce referendum result was evenly, if narrowly in favour. The 2015 Same Sex Marriage Referendum result was 62.1% in favour and 37.9% against. Now we have the vote in favour of abortion. Later this year there will be another Referendum on whether to remove the word ‘blasphemous’ from the Irish Constitution. It can be legitimately argued that the referendum votes since 1983 have been in conflict with the preamble contained in the Irish Constitution and as such should have been disqualified. The fact that successive Presidents have not upheld that Constitution, and the Irish Supreme Court has not ruled accordingly, should be of concern for all Irish Citizens. It is therefore to be expected that sometime in the near future there will be another referendum proposing to remove from the Constitution the ‘Holy Trinity’ and the statement ‘from Whom is all authority and to Whom as our final end all actions of both men and States must be referred’.
While there has been consternation about the influences of external non governmental organisations, before and during the Referendum, and the pro-abortion agendas of UN agencies pushing for the legalisation and decriminalization of abortion in Ireland, little attention has been given to the involvement of the European Commission. Nor should the residuary influences and directions be underestimated of the Troika who took up residence in Dublin following the financial crisis ten years ago and the bailout of the Irish economy, for which Ireland is still beholden.
The creditability of the Irish Supreme Court is also in question. In March, on an appeal by the State, they overturned a ruling by the High Court that the unborn has constitutional rights beyond the rights set out in the 8th Amendment and in Article 42A, which requires the State to protect and vindicate the rights of “all children”. This appeal was expedited to enable the early holding of the Referendum at a time before university students returned home and before Pope Francis’s visit to Ireland. The High Court had ruled in an immigration case. The Chief Justice delivered the judgement which was conflicted and contradictory. In ruling that the unborn has no constitutional rights beyond the right to life contained in the 8th Amendment, it upheld a finding by the High Court that the Justice Minister was required to consider the prospective constitutional rights of the unborn when considering whether or not to deport their parent. So the future citizen now, with the repeal of the 8th Amendment, has no rights, but if their parent faces deportation its future rights must be considered by the State. This is rank nonsense. Three appeals to the High Court relating to the conduct of the Referendum have been rejected and the Supreme Court will not hear the appeals.
This is due to the composition of the Supreme Court and the way judicial appointments are made. There have been calls for the system to be changed. This call has not come from disappointed pro-lifers following the Referendum. Legislation on judicial appointments started its process through the Oireachtas before the Referendum and has been strongly promoted by Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, who is part of the Alliance of Independents and who supported repeal of the 8th Amendment. The European Commission has expressed concern about the new legislation, saying it is not in line with European standards. They claim it provides for insufficient input from the judiciary on the new body which will recommend candidates for appointment as judges. They also say the proposed Bill does not conform to those standards which Ireland signed up to in 2010. Shane Ross responded, “Until the Commission understand the history of naked political appointment of judges in Ireland, they are unlikely to grasp the need for radical reform of the process.” The EU Commission is predictably consistent having also objected to sovereign Hungary and Poland in their attempts to rebalance and bring order to judicial appointments in their countries.
With the outcome of the Referendum in doubt, the print media went in to overdrive against the Catholic Church. Old stories about abuses were regurgitated as if they were new and current news. The Irish Bishops at their Spring General Meeting issued a statement setting out very clearly that the 8th Amendment was a declaration of equality, it was the duty of a compassionate society to support and love the mother and the baby, all babies before birth or in the early years have no choice and are powerless to defend themselves, life begins at conception, everyone has the fundamental right to life, and that by making abortion freely available people would become desensitised to the value of every human life.
Health Minister, Simon Harris, is now putting forward proposals that are more extreme than those he voiced before the Referendum, Now recognising there will be more abortions than he indicated, he proposes to keep the numbers down by providing free contraception. He also intends to make access to abortion services free. Bear in mind that to access health services in Ireland people must pay a charge, whether it is a visit to their General Practitioner or to Accident & Emergency at hospitals. So an exemption is being made for abortion and contraception, for which there is no justifiable reason and this is creating some resentment. Yes voters, that the same rules should apply for all access; No voters, because they are being forced to pay for abortion and contraception through their taxes. Additionally these measures will put pressures on health services that are already in crisis and at the point of collapse. Harris welcomed the Supreme Court ruling that the unborn child had no rights, he misled voters prior to the Referendum, he has caused the crisis in health care provision, he has misguided priorities due to his manipulation, and not only has he desensitised the Irish, he has dehumanised Ireland. In a land of too many pygmy politicians, he is a pip-squeak.
It should also be borne in mind that when Savita Halappanavar died in Galway Hospital it was in the middle of an incomplete reorganisation instigated by his Department, and this contributed to her death due to negligence. The abortion campaigners kept repeating the untruth that her death was due to being refused an abortion, when two health agency reports proved the contrary and the Coroners Court found that her death was due to sepsis. She has been unmercilessly used by the Abortion Rights Campaign who will not let her Rest In Peace. High profile doctors have also denied the facts of her death, claiming that not only was her death due to the denial of abortion, but that other women had died in Ireland for the same reason. This is not true. But hey abortion campaigners, don’t let the truth get in the way of your bigotry and prejudices.
Nowhere is that bigotry more apparent than in journalistic reporting and in editorials. It is not just a matter of what is said, but also of what is not said and reported. For example, on 10th March Dublin experienced its biggest ever march and rally against abortion. An Garda Siochana announced, before the end of the march and while it was still wending its way across the Liffey, that it surpassed 100,000 people. It had brought the centre of Dublin to a complete standstill for over two hours. Based on my experience of previous marches, I would estimate 115,000 people demonstrating their desire to save the 8th Amendment. What should have been front-page news in the Sunday papers was either ignored completely or down played. Only the Sunday Independent got anywhere near the truth, and that was inside on page 5; “Up to 100,000 join pro-life march in city”. This is consistent, tens of thousands are downgraded to thousands and hundreds of thousands are downgraded to tens of thousands. By contrast for pro-abortion demonstrations, a handful becomes a hundred, a hundred becomes a thousand, and a thousand becomes tens of thousands. As an aside, the Workers Solidarity Movement posted a video on YouTube claiming that only 9,000 people had marched; which proves how deluded they are.
The Life Institute have published an analysis of the referendum on abortion. One of their conclusions is the need to create an alternative media platform. Renua was the only political party to be totally opposed to repealing the 8th Amendment. It is to be hoped that those 21.49% of No voters will get fully behind them.