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Mary Lou McDonald TD calls for Referendum on a Simple Repeal of the Eighth Amendment

17 January, 2018 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has commended the work of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment and called for a referendum that puts a simple repeal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution to the people as recommended in the committees report.

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, the Dublin Central TD said:

“Over the last twenty four hours we have listened to the harrowing experiences of Joanne Hayes and all the horrific events that surrounded what became known as the Kerry Babies’ case thirty three years ago.

"The scale of mistreatment she endured at the hands of the State was unprecedented, and it was horribly and agonisingly public. Joanne Hayes is entitled to a full and formal apology by the State for its persecution and vilification of her and her family. She is entitled to compensation and redress 

“The Kerry Babies case and the insertion of the Eighth Amendment into the Constitution took place in an atmosphere that was toxic.

"This was the Ireland of the Mother and Baby Homes and the Magdalene Laundries. An Ireland where women were to be subjugated, kept inside the home, to be kept quiet and accept their fate. This obsessive control of women did not happen by accident. 

“It was intended by a powerful conservative cohort across Irish society – in Government, the Church, across the highest ranks of the public and civil service and the professional elite.

"Women’s subjugation was a part of a carving up of power and influence in the public and private spheres. The Eighth Amendment was I believe in effect a constitutional coup, a reactive codification for the subjugation of women.

“The X case brought into sharp focus the worst expression of the conservative coup. A child, pregnant as a result of rape, dragged through the courts by the state whose purpose and stated intent was to force her to continue with the pregnancy from rape to full term. 

“Even after the 1992 Supreme Court judgment, the public outcry, and the horrors endured by Miss X and her family, successive Governments refused to legislate for the X case for more than two decades.

"It took the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar and the alphabetical array of cases taken by incredibly brave women to shame Government finally enacting the X case Supreme Court decisiontwo decades later.

There is now broad acceptance across the Oireachtas and in wider society that the Eighth Amendment must be repealed from the Constitution. Now is a time for leadership. In the final analysis this debate is a matter of public health, of women’s health and our rights to decide on these matters for ourselves. 

“A simple repeal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution as recommended by the committee must be delivered on by Government, and there can be no equivocation on this by anyone.”


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