“Truly shocking denial of basic human rights”

Luca Volontè

The ruthless totalitarian tendency of the Irish Government seems to be coming to the attention of some politicians on the continent of Europe. The Chairperson of the Group of the European People’s Party in the Council of Europe and a member of the Italian Parliament, Luca Volontè, has declared that it is “truly shocking to see the government of an advanced Western country trying to deny the basic human rights of its own citizens like this.” He is talking about the Irish government of Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore.

“Even nations with the most permissive abortion laws do not normally go so far as to trample on the basic right to conscientious objection.” Volontè, Chairman of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute said in a statement two days ago.

Volontè, speaking of the Kenny government’s abortion legislation which will force health providers to act contrary to their ethically held principles, continued: “This bill claims human rights apply only to human beings, and not to institutions. But such a manipulative attempt at semantics casually disregards what it is that defines an institution, particularly a healthcare provider – at its core is an ethos, and individual employees who are dedicated to fulfilling that ethos. Far from seeking to maintain an amoral healthcare system, this bill will impose a new morality upon hospitals and those who serve in them, one which allows for no objection and uses all the authority of the State against any who would refuse to be accomplice to a clear moral evil.”

The cynically entitled “Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act” – which, if honesty were the hall-mark of the Irish Government, would be entitled the “Selective Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act” – explicitly denies the right of conscientious objection and enforces a no-right-to-refuse condition upon 25 Hospitals.

Recalling his work as the President of the European People’s Party (the largest party) in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, Luca Volontè added that the Council of Europe´s Resolution 1763 clearly states:

“No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human foetus or embryo, for any reason.”

Such compulsion would be unprecedented in Ireland, and has been successfully challenged recently elsewhere.

In April this year, a Scottish Court ruled in the ‘Doogan & Anor v NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board’ trial that two midwives could not be required to delegate, support or supervise staff who were involved in abortions. It looks like the Irish courts are going to be busy sorting out the human rights mess which the Irish government has created for itself with this legislation as it tramples on the rights of the unborn and on the rights of all its citizens.

Despite repeated refusals from the Irish Department of Health to work out an accommodation, Luca Volontè spoke of his hope for changes to the proposed law: “It is not unreasonable to ask for exemptions for staff (or institutions) on the grounds of conscience, whether they be religious or ethical; such accommodation is provided in many other Western nations which practice abortion. Freedom of thought and/or conscience is not only guaranteed by international law, it is innate to our human dignity. It is truly shocking to see the government of an advanced Western country trying to deny the basic human rights of its own citizens like this.”

(Reporting courtesy of Eurasia)

It is “a debate about the humanity of the unborn child”

If only Eamon Gilmore, Enda Kenny and company would acknowledge some of these facts and their relevance to the treachrous path they are trying to lead Ireland along.

The New York Times reports on the Gosnell trial summing up:

PHILADELPHIA — They are known as Baby Boy A, Baby C, Baby D and Baby E, all of whom prosecutors call murdered children and the defense calls aborted fetuses — the very difference in language encapsulating why anti-abortion advocates are so passionate about drawing attention to the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, which wrapped up here on Monday with summations by both sides.
To anti-abortion leaders, the accounts have the power to break through decades of hardened positions in the abortion wars, not just because of the graphic details but because they raise the philosophical issue of why an abortion procedure performed in utero is legal, but a similar act a few minutes later, outside the womb, is considered homicide.
The distinction “is maybe a 15-minute or half-hour time frame and 10 inches of physical space,” said Michael Geer, the president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, an anti-abortion group. “I think it’s going to resurrect a debate about the humanity of the unborn child.”

The Shattered Mirror of Our Times

Many years ago the late Bernard Levin, the most gifted columnist of his generation, wrote an article for The Sunday Times entitled The Cracked Mirror of Our Times. In it he cited a number of social and cultural phenomena of the late twentieth century that for him represented all that was rotten in the British society in which he lived and – often – lamented. I am glad he has been spared witnessing the shattered mirror of the culture of our times today.

Even the most hardened cynic must have found his stomach turning as he listened to the Irish Foreign Minister proclaim his support for “true love” and marital commitment  in Dublin at the weekend. The Irish Labour Party leader, Eamon Gilmore, proclaimed these sanctimonious words in what was probably the most tacky and tasteless  and naked – almost literally – display of hedonism and sexual exhibitionism ever seen on the Irish capital’s streets. It had nothing whatsoever to do with true love, true friendship or any kind of permanent commitment.

Gilmore declared that it was time for Irish legislation to move in the direction of public opinion and legislate for gay “marriage”. This will not be easy because constitutional hurdles will have to be overcome by means of a popular referendum. At that point many feel that the politicians in parliament – who are fully subscribed, almost to a man, to the media’s gay agenda – will find that public opinion may be of hues other than those of the rainbow. It will be even less easy if the people  Mr. Gilmore is campaigning for continue to display themselves in  vulgar exhibitions of the type witnessed in Dublin’s Fair City at the weekend.

In Facebook comments on Gilmore’s statement,  Maria Conroy Byrne asks if there is “any political party that would disagree with him? As far as I can see, they all seem very similar at the moment. Is there any brave TD (member of the Irish parliament) who’s willing to put his head above the parapet and express a different opinion?” Brendan O’Regan’s view is simply that “they’re afraid to appear illiberal.” That fear stalks the political streets of Ireland today just as the rainbow exhibitionists did in Dublin’s O’Connell Street on Saturday.

As the gross display drew to a close on Saturday Gilmore said he congratulated the organisers. He said that the parade also had a political dimension.

“As leader of Labour, a Party for whom the politics of personal freedom is so central, I acknowledge that when it comes to promoting understanding and respect, progress has been made in recent years. However, there are some outstanding matters, and if we as a Party are serious about building a new progressive society, these are matters that we will have to resolve.

“I believe that in certain key areas, our laws are out of step with public opinion. I don’t believe for example, that it should ever be the role of the State to pass judgement on whom a person falls in love with, or whom they want to spend their life with.

“That is why the issue of same-sex marriage is to be included for consideration by the Constitutional Convention. I believe in gay marriage. The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation, and, in my opinion, its time has come.”

If it has, and if that time has anything of the flavour of what Dublin witnessed on Saturday, then it is going to be a nasty and brutish time indeed. The bizzare and grotesque representatives of humanity who displayed themselves on the streets of the capital last week are the people who claim to be eligible for the nurture and upbringing of children. Good night.

(an earlier version of this post appeared on MercatorNet’s Conjugality blog this morning)

The Elephant At the Polling Station

There’s no question about it. There’s an elephant in the room and there is a massive conspiracy of silence to say nothing about it among in the mainstream Irish media covering the general election set to take place there on February 25. But hell hath no fury like an animal such as this when roused to anger by being ignored. Some are just now beginning to prod this one into action.

Admittedly Ireland’s continuing struggles to escape the clutches of the biggest recession, probably in its history, preoccupies both the electorate and the politicians in this campaign. But other issues are also at stake and these are the one the politicians are furtively seeking to avoid. Proposals to legislate for abortion, for gay marriage and limiting choice of schools to parents are all there in the small print. Like small print everywhere the hope of the printer is that it might not be read. On these issues it is Ireland’s own version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The first mainstream flagging of the abortion issue came last week in David Quinn’s weekly column in Ireland’s biggest broadsheet, the Irish Independent.  www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/david-quinn-any-vote-for-the-labour-party-is-a-vote-for-abortion-2535719.html . He spelt out the reality confronting the Irish electorate on these issues and effectively asked them to wake up to it.

These questions have become important because the final composition of the Irish parliament will most likely leave the two centre right parties (Fianna Fail and Fine Gael) without overall majorities. They will then have to look for government partners among the left-liberal groupings, Labour and the Greens. The polls currently suggest that the new Irish government will be formed from a coalition of Fine Gael and Labour. It is the familiar story of the tail getting to the position where it can wag the dog on social policy while the centre right gets on with the economic business. That is what happened in the outgoing parliament where the liberal Greens got their pound of flesh in the form of civil partnership legislation for homosexuals. For all those who campaigned on this issue, this was only a half-way house. The same groupings are now going all out for full gay-marriage legislation. That is no surprise, nor would it be seen as much of a threat by those opposed to these changes if these groupings were not in danger of getting an influence in the new parliament far beyond what their actual electoral support would warrant.

Quinn put his finger on the heart of the problem in his column when he pointed to the failure of the electorate to waken up to this danger. As he sees it – from his reading of the traditional sector of the electorate “a lot of them haven’t the first clue about Labour’s position on abortion. Amazing, but true. They don’t know, for example, that Labour wants to legislate for (a court) ruling of 1992. That ruling allows for abortion, and furthermore, it permits abortion simply on the say-so of a medical practitioner – it doesn’t have to be a doctor or psychiatrist – who is willing to say that his or her patient is suicidal.

In addition, Eamon Gilmore (Labour Party leader) favours abortion where the ‘health’ of the mother is in danger. In practice, this would replicate in Ireland the British abortion law. In Britain, abortion is permitted where a woman’s life or health is at risk. Health includes mental health. In practice, this translates into abortion-on-demand.

Gilmore favours this policy despite the fact that Ireland is the safest place in the world for a woman to have a baby, according to World Health Organisation figures.

And from a Catholic and Christian point of view, it is not only Labour’s stance on abortion that is problematic. It favours same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption. Its attitude towards denominational schools is also a problem.”

Quinn then deals with what he sees as the failure of the sector of the electorate for which traditional values on these issues are important.  He sees two categories of error being made by some of those who might be thinking of voting for Labour. The first category of are those who just don’t know the party’s position on abortion; the second category  somehow manages to rationalise away the Labour position, to say that it doesn’t matter, or that there are more important issues to be considered. Some, he finds, seem to think Labour doesn’t really mean it. “Sorry, it does. If it gets a chance – and that will be up to Fine Gael – we will have abortion in this country.”


The response to Quinn’s column seemed to bear out his point – so far. There were just three letters in the paper the following day and the politicians in the two main parties themselves studiously avoided the issue. I say “so far” because there are some signs that the Labour Party is now coming out more clearly on these issues. If it does so it may force the electorate – or the sizeable sector of it which, if awake, would be concerned about these matters to ask the main parties’ prospective members of parliament where they stand. They might then ask them fair and square whether, if in power with Labour, will they give their backing to health social legislation which denies the unborn their rights, denies society the marriages it needs to maintain the family as a meaningful institution, and denies parents the right to a choice of school without penalizing them financially.

The day after Quinn’s column appeared the paper’s deputy political editor, Michael Brennan, reported that the “Labour Party is making a pitch for the ‘gay vote’ by calling for a same-sex marriage referendum – but it risks alienating more conservative voters. Leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday said the party wanted to push ahead with a referendum to allow gay people the same right to marry as straight people.”  And on abortion he said “Labour is still maintaining its policy on another divisive social issue – it wants to introduce legislation which would copper-fasten the right of women to access life-saving abortions.”

However, Brennan warned, Labour’s social policies could cause divisions with its likely coalition partner Fine Gael, which is opposed to holding an abortion referendum and has not publicly backed same-sex marriages.

Fine Gael’s leader, and the man most likely to be Ireland’s next prime minister, is still less than forthright on exactly what terms he will enter coalition with Labour if he fails to gain an overall majority for this own party. Campaigning in Galway last week one journalist observed him as follows: “Enda has a word for everyone and looks like he’ll stand talking to anyone for as long as his aides will tolerate it. He engages in extended impromptu discussions about abortion, Shell to Sea (a local controversy in the West), the pubic service, and each time sets out his position in full.” Really?

The electorate knows he is “personally” opposed to abortion and considers marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. But but they have also heard him acknowledge that “there are other points of view”. What those seemingly tolerant words will mean if and when he come to form a government with those of that other point of view is what the traditional electors of Ireland do not yet know. The elephant is still in the room.