The fact that Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s new minority Government is somewhat lame does not seem to be stopping him pushing ahead with what he thinks is a populist demand to further liberalise Ireland’s abortion laws. He has announced that he is going ahead with the Citizens’ Assembly promised by the last Government – which he also led – to prepare the ground for this change.
For those who recognise the humanity of the child in the womb, awaiting birth, this is just another piece of window-dressing of shameless political manipulation. It is an attempt to sell to the Irish people something which in their hearts they abhor. A similar strategy was used three years ago with a hand-picked “expert group” was setup by health minister, James Reilly to give pre-ordained advice to him which resulted in an earlier liberalisation of the law.
The Irish Pro Life Campaign describes this decision to bring forward the setting up of the Assembly on abortion is “a knee-jerk reaction to the disgracefully one-sided report last week from the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) which set the rights of the unborn child at zero and ignored the devastating after-effects of abortion for many women.”
Last week, the UN Human Rights Committee commented on a complaint brought by an Irish woman who was unable to have an abortion in Ireland when she was told that her baby would not survive to birth, or very long afterwards. In those comments, the UNHRC said that the Irish State had subjected her to “intense physical and mental suffering”.
Commenting on yesterday’s announcement from the Government, Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said:
“This Assembly is being set up with one purpose only and that is to pave the way for a referendum to strip the unborn child of its last remaining Constitutional protection. Every member of Cabinet knows that the UN Committee that commented on Ireland’s abortion laws last week has a track record in only pushing abortion and has never once taken a stand against the appalling abuses internationally in the abortion industry. For example, the UN Committee in question has never brought countries like England and Canada to task over the barbaric practice of refusing to give medical assistance to babies born alive after botched abortions.”
The public campaigning for this change in the Republic has been relentless since ‘liberal’ Ireland’s gay marriage victory last year. The pro-abortion pressure groups have the media in their pockets for this one as well. The ratio of pro-abortion stories being run on radio and in print is still in the region of the 30:1 bias exposed last year. It bears no relation to the actual balance of public opinion on the matter. The figure for that which is now routinely trotted out is a pro-abortion one from a poll run for Amnesty International. That organisation’s Irish arm is now the country’s highest profile campaigner for abortion. For some reason its fundraisers on the streets do not seem to as ubiquitous as they were heretofore. One wonders why? Could it be that too many shoppers are seeing them as collectors for Abortion International?
Colum Kenny, an Irish Times columnist, in an balanced article in that paper earlier this month – a welcome but rare enough event for that paper – suggested that the “entry of Amnesty International into this domestic debate is problematic. Its rationale for sidelining the rights of the unborn, on the basis that human rights only begin after birth, is unconvincing.
Even permissive abortion regimes recognise it is not appropriate to terminate a foetus after a certain point sometime before birth. Parents are well aware a moving child in the womb is a human being. Has Amnesty no policy on the healthy but defenceless foetus that might be aborted only for personal or state convenience?”
As Ireland slides somewhat apathetically towards a potentially crucial general election in the centenary of the 1916 Irish rebellion against the British Empire, there are signs – and hopes among some – that this might be a watershed year in Irish politics.
The old party political structures which have persisted for nearly 100 years are tired and have gone far beyond their sell-by date. Worse, they are corrupted and for many they reek of some of the worst vices that relativism and it progeny, unprincipled pragmatism, can bring to any political culture.
In 1961the social and political philosopher, Hannah Arendt, was sent by The New Yorker magazine to Jerusalem to write about the trial of Adolf Eichmann. She was appalled by what she saw and heard. The spectacle which she saw unfold before her was of a man – indeed of many men and women – who set conscience aside to carry out the orders received from a government to which he had committed allegiance.
This appalled her at least as much as the catalogue of atrocities which the trial revisited. These she had anticipated and indeed lived through as a victim. In some senses was prepared for the repeated blows to her sensibilities which rained down on her. The former was something she was not prepared for and until her death in 1975 it haunted her. Well it might, and well it might haunt us all. The abnegation of conscience and its inevitable consequence, the abnegation of humanity, still stalks our public square today.
We may like to think that it does not manifest itself today in the horrendous proportions which it did in the case of Adolf Eichmann – and his co-criminals – but in essence it does. It does so in the same banal guise as it did in the case of that monstrous “ordinary” bureaucrat. It is at our peril that we think that it does not.
The coalition government of Enda Kenny, a politician more reviled by a sizeable proportion of the Irish electorate than any in living memory, is seeking to be returned to power along with his liberal coalition partners, the Irish Labour Party. He may well succeed. It is now widely expected, however, that there will be a strong representation in the new parliament for those who have been crying, “a plague on all your houses.” Kenny’s party may be the largest one in the Dáil after the election but its majority will be greatly reduced.
A poll at the start of the election campaign indicates that over 60 per cent of the electorate want rid of the present coalition. However, party fragmentation and independent deputies of all colours may result in them just getting more of the same. If Kenny can form a government he will have to do so with the help of all the colours of the rainbow, always a volatile and often a short-term mix.
There are multiple reasons for the disaffection of the Irish electorate. Ireland is not immune to this virus now found in many Western democracies. But in Ireland one in particular stands out. Enda Kenny is the leader of a party which in 2013 cut a number of its members adrift because they would not and could not, in conscience, support his government’s abortion legislation.
The members in question opposed the legislation on two grounds. The first was the ground of their moral conscience which told them that the termination of the lives of innocent unborn human beings in their mothers’ wombs was evil. The second, although not a matter of life and death like the first, was no less moral. They believed that promises made, undertakings given by politicians going into an election, should be honoured. Kenny’s party explicitly undertook not to legislate for abortion if it got the votes to enable it to form a government. Once in power, under pressure from their coalition partners and the media, they turned around and did just that.
But revulsion at Kenny goes even deeper than that. Not only did he unjustly punish those he could not bring with him. He corrupted the consciences of those too weak to stand their ground against him, those who in their hearts knew that what he was doing was both morally wrong and a betrayal of the trust of the electorate. These people, under pressure from him and his bullying acolytes caved in and voted for his legislation.
For many, sadly, this is just the stuff of political life. For others it is much more than that. Those who opposed Kenny did not see this as a matter involving the extermination of a race. For them it was about a law which was going to open the door to a regime of abortion through which their country would join a community of nations which have callously organised the extermination of millions of unborn babies over the past five decades. In secret meetings abortion advocates in Kenny’s coalition told their supporters that although limited in scope, the legislation he was introducing would open the door to abortion on demand in Ireland. That was no surprise to anyone.
Lucinda Creighton was a minister in Kenny’s government and was forced to resign when she was unable to support the legislation – legislation to which she was opposed in principle and which she had promised her electorate that the party would not introduce or pass into law. Media outlets in Ireland are overwhelmingly pro-abortion and Creighton is now their number one target. She is seeking re-election and is the head of a new party with a radical and comprehensive platform of policies. It is campaigning, among other things, to rid Irish party-politics of the paralysing and freedom-denying version of the parliamentary whip system it has be operating under.
Creighton’s new party is taking a much more liberal line on the application of the party whip because everyone sees that the system as used at present is simply turning the elected representatives in moronic “yes-men” – and women.
In their hue and cry pursuit of her Irish media show themselves, no less that the majority of the politicians in the traditional parties do, totally insensitive to the ethical quagmire which Hannah Arendt discerned in heart of Adolf Eichmann at his fateful trial in Jerusalem.
One journalist typified this a few weeks ago when she attacked Creighton for her conscientious stand. “I think she was wrong. She was wrong to leave over abortion and she was wrong to leave at all,” she said. Creighton should have understood, the journalist argued, why the party whip had to be imposed. According to her the TDs – an acronym derived from the Irish term for a parliamentary representative – and senators needed the “protection” of the whip. She denied that it was a method of ensuring group think and mind control. Read another way that means they needed the “protection” of the whip to shield them from their own consciences and to absolve them of personal responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
I never bought into the line about matters of conscience…., the journalist went on. If you can’t stand being told what to do, how do you intend to take part in Cabinet decisions, which are constitutionally collective and confidential? So in the end, you can dress it up in principles all day, but ultimately, Lucinda is just another splitter.
She concluded, the following applies, not just to Lucinda, but the rest of them: Compromise can be framed as the means by which ideals are undone, one vote at a time. You can sacrifice your soul on the altar of loyalty, but nothing changes the fact that politics is a collective business.
So yes, there’s a game to be played. But it’s a long game.
There are chilling echoes of Eichmann’s defence in those words. In the light of what she observed in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt raised the question of whether evil is radical or simply a function of thoughtlessness, a tendency of ordinary people to obey orders and conform to mass opinion without a critical evaluation of the consequences of their actions and inaction.
All this is symptomatic of what many see as a cancer at the heart of not just Irish political life, but of Western democracy generally. Politicians today are fond of telling us that their thinking and their principles are “evolving”. That, in most cases, is just a euphemism which describes political thinking devoid of principles.
For the next three weeks some Irish men and women are living in the hope that, 100 years after men went in good conscience to their deaths for an ideal, they might again have representatives in their parliament for whom conscience and ideals, as opposed to power, mean something.
The question being asked in Ireland this morning is not whether the Government will win its ill-considered referendum asking its people to redefine marriage as a bond between people regardless of their sex, but whether it can long outlive the defeat of this proposal.
The Irish people are a warm-hearted lot but they are not irrational. Among the countries of Europe most tried by the debacle of the financial melt-down in the last decade, they were the ones who resisted the emotional response and knuckled down to sort it out. All observers now give them credit for this. The only rage which they gave vent to was in the face of another piece of gross mismanagement by their Government when it muddled its way through the realignment of the country’s water utility.
Despite what very suspect opinion polls – conducted through cell-phone users in many cases – are telling us, the writing on the wall for the Enda Kenny and his ministers is ominous. It has been a bad week for them – and it is still only Wednesday.
On Monday their star spokesman and campaign leader, Minister Simon Coveney, was pummelled on television by the reasoned legal and social policy arguments of his podium opponent, Senator Ronan Mullen, and pro-marriage supporters in the studio audience. He could not answer any questions convincingly and was left plucking emotional strings. His efforts, combined with similar responses from the pro-redefinition segment of the audience, did nothing but show that there simply are no rational arguments which can be advanced for this proposal, riddled as it is with inconsistencies.
Yesterday the Irish Times – now beginning to redeem itself in some eyes as an even-handed communicator of news and opinion – carried op-eds on the issue from two expert witnesses – to employ a legal metaphor – exposing the deep flaws in Government policy. Emeritus Regius Professor of Law in Trinity College, Dublin, William Binchy, exposed the fallacies in the Government’s arguments that the passing of this referendum would have no impact of the State’s child welfare laws. In the other piece, another former Trinity academic, sociologist and constitutional expert, Dr. Anthony Coughlan, argued that the impact of a ‘Yes’ vote would have repercussions beyond Ireland’s shores. By effectively nullifying a protocol won by Ireland under the Lisbon EU Treaty, the passing of the referendum could lead to same-sex marriage becoming an undeniable human right throughout all 28 EU states. For many this suggests that the entire project, funded as it is by international gender ideologists, is a Trojan Horse designed to destroy marriage across the European continent.
That was yesterday. Today we have news of another own-goal by the Government itself. The lead story in the online Irish Times this morning covers the retrospective withdrawal by a Government quango of funding for the Catholic Church’s marriage advisory council, ACCORD. Despite the attempt to dress this up as routine cost-cutting, the ineptly handled decision makes the Government look every inch the draconian agents that they are. People have been reminded that the Minister for Children – whose brief this comes under – is the same man who as Minister for Health two years ago shepherded the Government’s abortion legislation through parliament. After a thoroughly undemocratic exercise, he reminded Catholic hospitals that their funding would be cut if they did not implement that legislation as law required. He is now trying to tell people that the cutting of ACCORD’s funding has nothing to do with plans to redefine marriage. Good luck to him.
Add to this the truly scathing letter in this morning’s Irish Times from one of the country’s leading liberals, Emeritus Professor of History in University College Cork, John A. Murphy. It is not just the razor-sharp content of this letter which will dismay the Government. It is the fact that it comes from one of the country’s most respected historians, that he is one who has often been highly critical of the Catholic Church, and that his liberal credentials are impeccable.
Finally – although probably not, because it is still only 11.30 as this is written, – after a flood of ‘Yes’ endorsements from a range of celebrity sports stars, media people and pop stars, most of it mindless gushing of emotion, comes a very reasoned argument from one of the stars of Ireland’s most popular and most participative sport, Gaelic Football, the first cousin of Australian Rules Football. This comes from Dublin star, Ger Brennan, and again makes front page news in the largest circulation morning paper in the country, the Irish Independent.
Brennan writes, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that everybody is equal in dignity and it holds that marriage is a male-female union. I don’t think the Declaration of Human Rights is homophobic. I’m voting ‘No’”. Brennan’s well argued declaration, exuding respect for his gay friends and playing companions, will speak to his generation in a way that will worry a Government that thought it had that constituency in its grasp. This will put a serious dent in the Dublin metropolitan vote, as will Murphy’s in the second largest metropolitan area, Cork.
But the most significant element in all these interventions in the debate is not just that they question this proposal. It is that they place a massive question mark in people’s minds about the general competence of this Irish Government.
Sitting in the studio audience for a TV debate on Ireland’s Marriage Referendum last night in Dublin I could not suppress the sense of a multiple tragedy unfolding before me which this primeval battle induced.
Whatever way this plays out on May 22, it seems that a nemesis awaits us.
If this foolish and careless Government succeeds it will not kill the reality that is marriage. The reality that the word marriage gives institutional form to, that is, the coming together in conjugal union of man and woman, is beyond the manipulative control of governments. They can mess with the word which describes it as much as they like but as long as men and women exit, it will exist.
But this messing by governments with those things that nature designed does have consequences for human beings and their life in society. In this case, the Irish Government will become responsible for the clouding in people’s minds of what marriage really is. This in turn will have consequences for generations to come. This will be the first tragedy.
If the Irish Government drains the word marriage of its true meaning, its essential identity, by describing it as a bond between people regardless of their sex, homosexuals and heterosexuals will suffer equally and the victory which some homosexuals feel they will have won will prove to be, and will be seen to be, as hollow as the arguments now being advanced for it.
For those who understand that the essence of a thing remains the same no matter what we call it, marriage will remain what it is and always was – a lifelong bond between a man and a woman, open, where nature allows, to the begetting of future generations. “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” For those who think that they have changed the thing because they have changed the name – or turned one thing into another by using the other’s name – there is the tragedy of delusion. This is the second tragedy.
This was the tragedy averted by Solomon who in his wisdom was able to resolve the folly of the woman who sought to relieve her pain of loss by dividing in two the child of her companion. But Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is no Solomon. He has succumbed to the foolish thinking of a militant group of culture warriors who have led the gay community astray into thinking that access to marriage is just a matter of manipulating language.
If the Irish Government wins this referendum everyone will wake up on the May 24 and find that nature has preserved this thing called marriage. But they will also find that in the futile attempt to meddle with nature they will have a meaningless human artefact posturing as “marriage” in their nation’s Constitution. This sham thing will be bringing with it a myriad of muddy legal complications. Bad laws impact on human lives, some with tragic consequences. There will be numerous personal tragedies as “motherless” and “fatherless” children search for their natural progenitors to try to rescue them from the limbo of those quotation marks. Some will succeed, more will never do so. This is the third tragedy.
And if this chaos is avoided and a “No” victory results, what nemesis awaits us? This will be the nemesis for a bitterly disappointed community which has been misled into thinking that this manipulation of language, spun by a Government which has in turn been manipulated by an international ideological movement backed by millions of dollars – scandalously ignored by a biased national media, – was going to bring it to a haven of happiness and contentment.
The utterly bewildering illusion being fed to people that this is a struggle for equality has been spun so effectively that the consequences of its inevitable evaporation will be tragic. A Government complicit in this charade is a truly bad Government. It is now compounding this crime by declaring that a rejection of their proposal – a proposal which declares that two things which are different from each other are in fact the same – will amount to a disdainful rejection of some of their fellow human beings by the majority of the electorate.
The gay community – as it is called, and isn’t there something wrong with the very idea of segregating people into communities on the basis of their sexuality? – has been deceived into thinking that redefining marriage is a solution to the difficulties they experienced in human societies in the past or present. They have been deceived into thinking that it will in some way compensate for wrongs done to them. It will not and it never do so, because it is a meaningless act. This deceit is just one more tragedy.
The final tragedy has already taken place. When we should be concentrating our efforts on the task – always necessary – of building up the cultivation of real civilizing values in our community we are distracted and divided by this unreal conflict. True equality should be our goal, true values of fraternity and justice should be our objective and not this false synthetic concoction of something that can never really exist.
This horrible and divisive battle, which ideologues have forced on a good-humoured and generally kind-hearted nation, may be leading it into a new – even if as yet low-level – era of civil strife. After last night’s debate, one member of the audience on the “Yes” side came over to the speaker for the “No” side and uttered with uncivil vehemence words of bitter reproach for what he had presented to all, in good faith, for consideration. The producers of the programme – which was rchesrated with exemplary skill and fairness by presenter Claire Byrne and her team, – in a departure from normal procedure before these debates, separated the “Yes” and “No” supporters into separate rooms. “No” participants wondered why, and in fact regretted the segregation and the loss of the chance to mix and share views. But it was a sign of the times.
Bruce Arnold’s astounding open letter to Ireland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach), Enda Kenny, should find him a place in the pantheon of political thinkers alongside Edmund Burke, Abraham Lincoln, Cicero and just a handful of others.
This letter, a call to prudence and wisdom to a straying political establishment is heroic, practical and much deeper in its implications than it might at first seem.
Edmund Burke, an Irishman in England’s 18th century House of Commons, twice called on his fellow parliamentarians to come to their senses. Firstly he did so over their folly in their treatment of the American colonists. Secondly he warned them of the bloody consequences which he saw flowing from the rash political excesses of their French contemporaries in 1789.
In the one, his call for conciliation with the British settlers in America, he failed to win their support and both England and the thirteen colonies paid the price in a bloody war. In the other he was more successful and his countrymen set their faces against the excesses of the French and braced themselves for the eventual and finally victorious struggle with the megalomaniac who sought to straddle the world.
Arnold is an Englishman, a journalist and writer, who has made his home in Ireland and, while not a parliamentarian, is playing a crucial role as one of the leading voices of the only political opposition Ireland’s parliament has today.
Ireland’s Dáil now bears all the hallmarks of a one-party state. Recently it rushed through an important and radical piece of legislation on Children and Family Relationships. While this enactment contained some important reforms it was, however, riddled with provisions which many felt were inimical to children and the family. It was initially envisaged that it would make provision for surrogacy as a legitimate way for same-sex couples to beget children. This was withdrawn for strategic reasons and will now be proposed in separate legislation. Other elements were questioned but, despite some efforts by independent parliamentarians to propose amendments, the Party machines on all sides of the parliament, Government and non-Government, pushed the Bill into law.
Simultaneously – and not coincidentally, for the latter was part of strategic plot to help win the other – it rushed through legislation for a referendum on same-sex marriage. It was so rushed in fact that they did not even take time to get the Irish language – the “first” official language of the State – wording of the measure to synch with the English. They had to correct this to avoid what would have been a very embarrassing legal quagmire.
Arnold’s open letter – ostensibly to the Taoiseach but it should in fact be taken to heart by 90% of the Irish parliament who have sheepishly followed his lead on these things – deals with the detail of what is proposed to the electorate as a change to their constitution. It reveals the devastating superficiality of what is passing for government in the Irish Republic today and which is exemplified in this current political action.
This journalist, in the role now of a true tribune of the people, is calling on Ireland’s political class to come to its senses and to start thinking seriously again. His call has worrying resonances, touching on much more than one single issue. His questioning of the political wisdom of this small country’s parliament casts doubt over its competence to deal with everything that it touches. The context of Arnold’s remarks is the current issue of this referendum. The broader issue which it exposes is that of quality of governance – which is why we can call the letter “astounding”. That this should be so on the eve of Ireland’s centenary celebrations of its achieving independence as a nation is truly disheartening.
Ireland gave the gift of Edmund Burke to England in the 18th century, and to parliamentary democracy across the world. He is now recognised as the father of a political philosophy which puts common sense, the value of the common good and an inherent but open-minded respect for society’s good traditions, over fanatical ideology. Perhaps England has now returned the compliment by giving Ireland a voice which loudly and clearly speaks to power on behalf of a people whose parliament is now attempting to foolishly destroy an institution which has served it beneficially from time immemorial and replace it with an empty and meaningless shell, genderless marriage, which will serve no one’s real interest.
Arnold first wrote to Kenny on this issue of the referendum in February last. That was a more formal approach, raising the constitutional, social and moral questions that are actively bothering about 25 percent of the electorate – a percentage increasing as the campaign continues towards it finale on May 22. Most people now concede that the result of this ballot will be much closer than the opinion polls suggest.
This letter, Arnold begins, is more familiar and personal than the previous one for reasons that will soon become apparent.
We have known each other for the whole of your political career, having first met after you succeeded your father in the by-election that resulted from his death. Henry Kenny was a friend of mine during his two short years as a parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Finance, Richie Ryan. These were my first two years as a journalist working in the Dail. It is probable I met you at that time as well. With ups and downs, inevitable in the relationship between politicians and the journalists who record their lives, I have always had an admiration for your calm style, in opposition and in power, and for a quality I have admired in you, the likeable human appeal that I think of when I think about the career of another politician I have always greatly admired, Jack Lynch. He had the common touch as you have, an ability to be naturally relaxed and friendly.
Perhaps the most important challenge you faced in your political career was the last general election. Fianna Fail had made an undoubted mess of their time in office, tolerating excessive spending, wildly uncontrolled property development and a political dishonesty that was deeply damaging to this country.
I supported your candidature and your courage in putting a quality back into the search for power and a set of principles, not always effective, but good enough to support in the contest during that election. You had the good grace to recognise and acknowledge my consistent support for your campaign and I have no hesitation in saying now that I did it for good and reasoned endorsement of those principles for which you stood.
I have to confess that much of this support and sympathy has been undermined by the inept and already damaging impact of your handling of the Marriage Referendum. If the referendum is carried, I see this as irreparably damaging to moral life in this country, to married life and the future of the family, and leading to the encroachment of wildly inappropriate approaches to the birth and development of children. It runs the risk of splitting the country irreparably.
I have shown recently (through the document I circulated on Wednesday about international developments in the area of same-sex marriage) how totally out of step with the rest of the world Ireland has become in pursuing an unwanted and unjustified constitutional amendment. It is being pushed through in a political atmosphere of almost total ignorance and hysteria. If the referendum is carried, Ireland will be the only jurisdiction in the world providing explicitly for same-sex marriage in its Constitution. It will become the flag bearer for same-sex marriage and gender ideology internationally.
This week, in a pithy and courageous call to the people, Brendan Howlin used a phrase about an aspect of the economy that resonated immediately with me. He called for “the full ventilation of the full truth”. In the marriage referendum the opposite has been the case. In your article in the Irish Independent on April 27th, for example, you repeat the blatant untruth that underlies your whole approach (“… importantly, marriage equality will not in any way affect the institution of marriage. It will only extend equal legal protections to all couples.”). How then could the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court also say on April 27th, to proponents of gay marriage: “you’re not seeking to join the institution, you’re seeking to change what the institution is. The fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship and you want to introduce into it a same-sex relationship?”
Do you, Enda, take us all for fools? The dogs in the street know that marriage will change radically. What is now a natural institution that predates the Constitution and is protected by it, will become an artificial creation of the Constitution and be defined by it.
An approach of almost unprecedented ignorance is being purveyed and blindly supported. Talk of love and equality is no substitute for reasoned analysis of the consequences. Huge sums of money from outside the state have been employed, contrary to firm expenditure principles in most other political campaigns. Ministers are hailing the Yes Vote while at the same time refusing to say why and how it is appropriate. They are not answering any of the questions being put to them. Largely this is because they do not know the answers.
You are leading a campaign in a prejudicial and one-sided way that has all the faults of previous referendums, faults that led on several occasions to successful challenges by private citizens. The purpose of a referendum is to allow the Irish people to legislate directly on whether to amend their Constitution or not. Such acts of direct legislation should take place without voters feeling pressurised and intimidated by the Government of the day into voting in a particular way, with all members of that Government favouring a particular outcome, and certain organs of the State being allowed or even encouraged to act in a one-sided way also.
The Gardai have been engaged, quite inappropriately, on the side of the Yes Vote. Their permitting of voter registration sites in universities, enrolling young people, to be used as posts to distribute Yes campaign materials and literature and to be decked with Yes campaign posters and murals, is a denial of their pledge to uphold the Constitution. Young and innocent people are being deliberately misled. The older generations are bewildered by the mood of near-hysteria that prevails in the country.
The criticism of the Gardaí by Nuala O’Loan was devastating. Yet Minister Fitzgerald has taken no effective action as she should have done. She has tolerated silently this putting of the legality of the referendum process at risk. How would you like to stand in an election in which the supervision of the integrity of the ballot, the collection of votes and the transfer of boxes were all entrusted to Sinn Féin with that party supervising registration? That is what it looks like when the Gardaí take sides in a referendum. Have no doubt that the Supreme Court would deem this to be a grave misconduct. You and the members of your Government have been silent about it.
I gave you a copy of a Private Study Paper on Same Sex Marriage in the Irish Constitution with my letter of 25th February. (It is referred to as a private study paper as it was prepared by private citizens who have done work the State should have done.) You replied to me saying that you would read the study paper. I acknowledge that you heeded my call to rectify the crass error in the Irish text of amendment, but I have not heard from you since.
You have instead chosen to deal with an issue that is exceptionally complex, both legally and morally, and which has implications for family law that are at the borders of medical technology and that stretch ethics to their very limits, and indeed beyond, in a trivial manner through a one-page referendum Bill, a single line in the Constitution and a threadbare draft Marriage Bill.
That is no way for a developed state to behave. It is also entirely contrary to the intent and spirit of the huge reform work undertaken by the Constitutional Review Group led by Ken Whitaker. I cannot understand why you have chosen to approach same-sex marriage in such a reckless and ill-thought out manner, a manner that would result in referendum after referendum to try to correct the results of a “yes” vote and which will make us the laughing stock internationally.
It has now also come to my attention that the Marriage Referendum, if carried, will serve to subvert directly the first of the Irish (Treaty of Lisbon) Protocols in relation to Article 41 (The Family) and Article 42 (Education). As Leader of the Opposition, you witnessed the defeat of the referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon in June, 2008 and it being subsequently carried in a second referendum in 2009, once certain protocols for Ireland were secured. These protocols became legally binding when, appended to the Croatian Accession Treaty, it became law on December 1st, 2014.
It really is bewildering for me to see that once we adopt a protocol to protect the integrity of Article 41 and Article 42 of the our Constitution from being overridden by European law and the new wave of European genderless ideology, which utterly and falsely denies the differences between men and women, we then proceed within six months thereafter to try to change, radically and irreparably, our national understanding that marriage is based on gender difference. Thereafter, we will insist that the falsehood of genderless ideology be taught to our children in schools.
Young children and young adults will become increasingly confused, when as boys and girls, young men and young women, they are told that there is no difference between the male and the female. If this Referendum is carried our young people will be told in schools that marriage, which is based on the dignity of the difference between a man and a woman, has no regard to this difference. Can you not see how the false genderless ideology will underpin all of this in a way that leads to confusion? Great confusion will be done to our young people in realising their true identities and their God-given potential?
While certain countries in Europe are being seduced by a false gender ideology, which denies the differences between men and women, we have a clear defence against this falsehood with the first of the Irish (Treaty of Lisbon) Protocols. You worked hard for these protocols yet your Government are now trying to abolish their protection. More significantly, ministers are telling the Irish people nothing about this. Can you not see how wrong this is? Has no adviser explained that the first of the protocols, which were necessary to secure the carrying of the referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, will be destroyed if this referendum is carried?
In fairness to you, one cannot expect that you will have heard this from our Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. This body is meant to advise all of us independently upon how our human and constitutional rights are being affected. Since leading representatives of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network shape its policy statements, there is no surprise there.
In the light of all that has happened and of our long relationship, I would deeply appreciate answers from you to the following questions:
Did the Ministers for Justice and Equality or Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Attorney General inform the Government of the Irish (Treaty of Lisbon) Protocols when considering the Marriage Referendum Proposal? Was there any discussion about the first protocol (in so far as it protects Articles 41 and 42) being totally undermined by the Marriage Referendum proposal?
When Article 41.3.1 of the Constitution provides that the State pledges to protect the institution of Marriage upon which the Family is founded from attack, what does this really mean for a marriage of two men? Does it not mean that they will have a constitutional right to donor assisted human reproduction and surrogacy to “found” their family? Must not all legislative restrictions on these practices be subject to this new and radical constitutional right?
Did the Minister for Education and Skills inform the Government of the potential effect on the education system of
placing same-sex marriage on the same level as heterosexual marriage for the future of primary and secondary education in our country in terms of what will be taught to children and young adults about gender, sexual orientation and sexual practices?
Has the Minister for Justice and Equality informed the Government of her view of the involvement of the Gardai on
the “yes” side of the referendum campaign?
Have you not considered the inappropriate and unwarranted statements made by state employees on behalf of their organisations, pledging a support they should be unable to offer?
We need answers. Remembering your father and what he stood for, I need answers.
I do not doubt that you and the Government have done enormous damage to any fair, balanced and EQUAL handling of this Marriage Referendum. I think that you should put a stop immediately by qualifying your position and that of the Government and indicating that you at least are reconsidering your own vote on 22 May, and that you are doing this in light of the many unforeseen, unintended and unconsidered consequences of this referendum that have been brought to your attention.
Will debate-shy Kenny respond meaningfully to this wise and democratic cri de coeur? Kenny has made prepared speeches on the issue. He has yet to engage in public debate on the matter – despite multiple invitations to do so. Will he even give a meaningful reply to this letter? We are, wisely, not going to hold our breath.
Suppressing anger was the most difficult thing – anger about injustice, dishonesty and manipulation of people and the truth itself. Generating hope was the second – not that the thrust of the conference was ignoring the vital need we all have to sustain our hope.
The conference in question was the recent think-in of Ireland’s Pro Life Campaign on the greatest evil of our time – the wholesale slaughter of the innocent, already a reality across much of the globe. Forget ISIS, forget the local spat in Ukraine, forget the untold evil being perpetrated in North Korea. No, don’t forget them. That would also be evil. But do get them in perspective. The loss of life being inflicted through the world’s abortion agencies has now put Genghis Khan in second place. Despite the denials of abortionists, we are talking about loss of life. The irrationality of those who try to maintain that the creature awaiting delivery from its mother’s womb is an inanimate collection of tissues is astounding. They offer nothing more than slogans and mantras in answer to the wealth of scientific evidence showing that what is awaiting birth is a human being. Their repeated use of the word ‘fetus’ is just one example of their attempt to brain-wash the truth away. Not only are they the enemies of the unborn. They are also the enemies of reason.
There was some comment last week on a slogan scrawled by the Taliban on the walls of the ministry of justice in Kabul: “Throw reason to the dogs, it stinks of corruption.” We know that this is the modus operandi of one strain of Islam and we see every day where this corrupted vision of human nature has landed that sorry part of the world. When reason is thrown to the dogs then you end up in the doghouse. The “pro-choice” movement is a movement based on a false premise, using corrupted language – their premise is that the unborn child is not a human being.
The Dublin conference was told that Ireland’s politically corrected power-elite has now injected one of the most virulent strains of this evil into the country’s laws. Ireland had already been infected with this virus – with between three and four thousand babies being shipped for termination to Great Britain every year by abortion counselling agencies – euphemistically called family planning clinics of one kind or another. But Ireland’s new abortion law – which will forever be known as Kenny’s Law after the wise and wonderful Taoiseach, Enda Kenny – is potentially among the most lethal in the world, permitting the termination of a baby’s life right up to the moment before its natural birth.
It was hard not to be angry listening to descriptions of this injustice and the catalogue of political shenanigans which went into its perpetration. But there was hope. It came in the form of some human stories. Essentially they were redemptive stories of conversion and the transformative power of simple reflection and contemplation on the treasure that is human life, seen in the face of a new-born baby, seen in the ultrasound image of a baby’s beating heart, even perceived through the painful experience of the loss of a child at the hands of manipulating and selfish third parties.
This latter story came from Julia Holcomb. It is a harrowing story of family dysfunction, child abuse at the hands of a rock star, attempted murder and forced abortion – but ultimately of conversion and forgiveness. Julia’s story – available to view and read on the Internet on the LifeSiteNews website – tells us not just a story of abortion but shows us the trail of unhappiness, disorder, and pain left by a society given over to selfishness and the untrammeled pursuit of pleasure.
Steve Tyler, the rock star in question, himself not unconscious of his guilt, is quoted as saying in the aftermath of the act where he forced the abortion on Julia, “It was a big crisis. It’s a major thing when you’re growing something with a woman, but they convinced us that it would never work out and would ruin our lives. … You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?” That is how grim it all is.
Then came more anger. This was a roller-coaster of a conference. The vice-chair of the Pro-Life Campaign, Cora Sherlock, was upbeat and optimistic in outlining the achievements and plans of the movement. But when she got around to talking of what she saw as the single biggest challenge facing them in their struggle for the unborn, anger and frustration began to mount. The number-one enemy of the unborn in Ireland is the country’s mainstream media.
From playing a role as an even-handed communicator of the facts and opinions of both sides in this undoubtedly divisive debate, it has become the number-one advocate in the campaign to bring abortion into Ireland. I have a Google alert set up for news stories on the topic. About 90% of what is flagged to me from Irish media is pro-abortion. On the day following this conference I could find no report of it in the main Sunday paper – but there was a feature by one of its specialist writers arguing for a change in legislation to allow the killing of babies with “fatal fetal abnormalities”. We know what that has led to in other jurisdictions – the wholesale killing of babies with Down syndrome.
Clearly the mainstream media in Ireland has set its face against life and has espoused, lock, stock, and barrell, the culture of death – firstly death for the unborn whom any among those already born, with a say in the matter, wish to dispose of; secondly, death as a valid choice for any who wish to terminate their own lives. That is not where we are yet, but what reason is there to think that this is not where we are headed?
All this is, sadly, the inevitable conclusion of any philosophy which sees man as the measure of all things and at the centre of the material world – for there is no other world for anyone espousing this belief. This is the dominant vision in mainstream media – and it is fast conquering public opinion. While it would behove public representatives to think hard and long about where this is leading us, they are not doing so. Public representatives and so-called public intellectuals are in thrall to the advocates of this philosophy. They are all getting on the same bandwagon and leading the people, bit by bit, away from a society where the dominant vision is one preoccupied with the common good, virtue as a value, life as a gift given by a greater power and something which, once given, we are obliged to treasure and care for.
The words of wisdom uttered recently by that towering Irish public intellectual, Gay Byrne, represent the latest example of the salvos being fired in the softening-up strategy of moving our culture of life slowly but surely to a culture of death. The veteran broadcaster has said that he would “have to consider” assisted suicide if he was faced with “a drawn-out illness of great pain”. Pro-choice rules the roost, OK?
The power now in the hands of mankind in so many fields of human endeavour is truly awesome. In relation to human life and the issue of our entry and our exit from the stage we now seem unprepared to brook any interference from the dramatist. With regard to our coming into the world we are at the mercy of the whims of those who should welcome us and care for us in the delicate stages of gestation and birth. They now select at will who may and who may not come through those stages. We are also fast moving to an exit strategy offering the same freedom of choice. Today we are being offered the option of making our exit when we chose to. Tomorrow – indeed it is already there in some jurisdictions, where terminally ill children may be euthanized – others will be making the decision for us.
Remember the words of Lord Acton – “all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.How could we forget, when we have seen the principle fulfilled in so many terrifying instances throughout history? Why should we exclude ourselves from its operation. Our assumption of the powers which modern technology, modern medicine and a truly perverse modern philosophy have put in our hands, while not quite absolute is still unrestrained to the point where our absolute corruption is all but inevitable.
More evidence is emerging in Ireland that the country’s Family Planning Association (IFPA), an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood, may be acting illegally and is certainly not acting as a body which cares for the health of women as it claims to be.
The Sunday Times – a British-based paper – reports this weekend that following on from a Garda (police) investigation a file has been sent to Ireland’s Director of Public Prosecutions on the counselling practices at the IFPA, including giving advice to women on how to illegally import abortion pills.
The IFPA last week began to feel the backlash from the public following its involvement in a case where a woman’s baby was delivered prematurely following her demand for an abortion. There is widespread suspicion that IFPA manipulated this case so that it could strengthen its campaign for abortion on demand in Ireland. Two large street demonstrations at the weekend condemned the manipulation pointing out that the termination of the pregnancy with the delivery of a child at 24 weeks has now left a baby fighting for its life in a Dublin hospital.
The latest revelations about the IFPA were described as ‘very disturbing’ by a spokesperson for the Irish Pro Life Campaign today.
“The type of counselling advice given by the IFPA to women was life-endangering”, said Cora Sherlock, vice-chairperson of the PLC. “This scandal has been brushed under the carpet for two years by the Department of Health. It is an outrage that the former Minister for Health James Reilly never made a single statement of concern on the matter in the two-year period since the scandal came to light”
“The IFPA showed total disregard for women’s health by giving them advice on how to illegally import abortion pills, to self-administer without medical supervision. There is no excusing this conduct.”
“Also, to tell women to conceal the fact that they had an abortion from their own doctors and to say they had a miscarriage if complications arose is appalling advice that puts the lives of women in danger.”
The police investigation followed an undercover investigation of the IPFA by pro life activists.
Ms. Sherlock added that the women who engaged in the undercover operation deserve great praise for highlighting the disgraceful practices at the Irish Family Planning Association.
It is not only on the Irish side of the Atlantic that the abortion narrative is beginning to fray at the edges – to put it mildly.
“Not motherhood”, she assures us. “That’s a breeze compared to the job of rebranding abortion, now that the country has awakened to the humanity of babies in utero and is discovering the terrible, silent grief carried by the many millions of women who once believed the lie that abortion was nothing more than a “choice.”
This is precisely what has just happened in Ireland. Suddenly what the pro-abortionists were talking about as a fetus has become a patently living baby for all to see. It is a tough one for them to swallow, and in trying to swallow it they are choking on their own lies.
Wills chronicles the change she has seen in the United States. The harder the pro-abortionists try to make the “choice” word work now, the more callous and ugly they become.
The “pro-choice” slogan served the abortion industry well for decades, capped off with its adoption by NARAL in 2003, when it became NARAL Pro-Choice America, abandoning a commonality in its three earlier names, all of which included the “A” word. From that point, many of the NARAL ads and promotional pieces prominently featured American flags and the head of the statue of liberty (which is still in their logo). Really, what could be more American than having a dizzying array of choices? Just check out the cereal aisle.
The weakness of pro-choice as a brand was, of course, inherent. While “pro-choice” appears to be perfect for our time—tolerant of all views and nonjudgmental (“I’m not in favor of abortion and would never have one personally, but I think every woman should be able to make that choice for herself”)—the problem is that choice implies an object or action to select over other objects or actions. And, unlike the cereal aisle, there are only two possible choices regarding an unwanted pregnancy: the child’s life or death.
The tide is turning, even in Ireland – where just a year ago it seemed the pro-abortionists had breached the defences of one of the last citadels of the unborn in the West. Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s notorious legislation was perceived the pro “choice” people as a gateway to abortion on demand. “Baby Hope” – as the child, a boy, struggling for survival in that Dublin hospital is now known – will be a symbol in the struggle of the Irish pro life movement to save thousand more babies. Their immediate objective is the repeal of Kenny’s Act and the replacement of his government.
In the context of the battle over abortion in Ireland, this radio exchange of views between the legal spokesperson for the Irish Pro Life Campaign, Caroline Simons, and Irish Labour Party Senator, Ivanna Bacik, reveals the cold and callous position which this pro abortion Party takes on the life of the unborn.
Among other things it exposes the deceptoion of the pro abortionists in their persistent use of the term fetus to describe a child in its mother’s womb.. Bacik is at it again in this interview. They clearly want to deny the humanity of the unborn – against all the evidence we now have that the beating heart of the child in the womb is a real human heart. They think that they will in this way dull the public’s perception of this reality.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny thought he had dealt with the abortion controversy with his Orwellian entitled Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 last summer. The deep flaws in the legislation became apparent with the revelations last weekend that because of the crudeness of the provisions of this Act a baby’s life was put at risk when it had to be delivered prematurely.
The PLC deputy chairperson, Cora Sherlock, in a statement yesterday, spoke of the outrage Irish people were feeling at the way the Labour Party – the socialist tail wagging the dog in the coalition government on all matters of social policy – is exploiting a mother and her new-born child in this latest skirmish between those who want to number Ireland among the abortion nations of the world and those who don’t.
Pro-life campaigners in Ireland knew from the start that this legislation was seen by the Labour Party as a stepping-stone to abortion-on-demand. Although theoretically it gives a right to abortion up to the moment of birth they knew that this would be too hit and miss in practice. They want a law which will give water-tight assurance that any person seeking an abortion can have it. Commenting on the calls by the Party for wider access to abortion in the wake of this case, Ms. Sherlock said:
“This is a tragic story for both mother and baby. There is a premature baby clinging to life in a Dublin Hospital as a direct result of last year’s abortion legislation and all some Labour TDs can do is exploit the situation to push for more abortion. It is obscene the way they are using this case to whip up support for their agenda.
“The Labour TDs in question should be ashamed of themselves for knowingly introducing a law that wasn’t evidence-based and that puts the lives of unborn babies at grave risk. The new law was always about introducing abortion and never about providing life-saving treatments. Those who voted for it in the Dáil also chose to ignore all the peer-reviewed evidence pointing to the negative mental health consequences of abortion for women.
“Of course it suits the agenda of pro-choice activists to portray the new law as restrictive. It’s just a ploy to build support for the deletion of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution. Pro-choice advocates talk about the new law not providing for situations like rape and incest but they know this isn’t true. The tragic story that emerged over the weekend proves that the new law is not restrictive. The truth is the psychiatrists on the panel deciding the case wanted to sign off on an abortion even though they knew it was not a treatment for suicidal feelings.
“Pro-choice activists are in effect saying that the baby at the centre of this tragic case should never have been born. It is a chilling and disturbing reminder of the cruel and inhumane reality of legalized abortion.
“Instead of playing politics with this tragedy, we should all be focused on the best outcome for the mother and baby at the centre of this very difficult case.With this tragedy, we should all be focused on the best outcome for the mother and baby at the centre of this very difficult case.”
Ireland’s ironically designated Department of “Health” took a further step today in prescribing death for countless children awaiting birth in their mothers’ wombs. It has published its guidelines for doctors to follow when women come to them seeking abortion on the pretext that they are about to commit suicide because of an unwanted pregnancy.
This time last year the Fine Party led by Prime Minister Enda Kenny forced legislation through the Irish parliament, bludgeoning many of his party’s members into submission to support the bill against their consciences. He did so to keep his ideologically-driven socialist partners on board in his coalition government.
He did this in the face of massive public street protests from the pro-life movement in the country and has since paid a considerable electoral price for this. Independent candidates were victorious in the local and European elections in May and with the defenders of the unborn continuing to mobilize support he has every reason to be edgy about his political future.
The Pro Life Campaign today issued a statement accusing the Government of misleading the public “every step of the way” over abortion. Deputy Chairperson, Cora Sherlock said:
” The law introduced last year was presented as emergency legislation needed to save women’s lives. If this were true, it wouldn’t have taken a full year to draw up the guidelines. The truth is the legislation was never about life-saving treatments. It was always about Fine Gael capitulating to the Labour Party, who had campaigned for 20 years for an abortion regime in Ireland. The assurances sought by some Fine Gael TDs prior to the passage of the legislation have now been shown to be worthless.”
Ms Sherlock added that the guidelines “confirm that all it takes to sign the life of an unborn baby away is for two like-minded psychiatrists to sanction the abortion without having to produce a shred of medical evidence that it would help save the life of the mother. Abortion is now legal in Ireland up to birth, based on a threat of suicide, even though the Government knew before the law was passed that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal feelings. No amount of spin from the Taoiseach or anyone else can change this sad reality.”
“Though they may try and play it down, Fine Gael knows that their support for abortion was a significant issue with voters in the recent local and European elections. I can assure them it will be an even bigger issue come the next General Election.”
If the Irish government coalition regime does not unravel before then, Kenny will be facing the electorate again in early 2016. Recent polls have shown that the socialist partners in the coalition are at their lowest level in living memory. Their leader, Eamon Gilmore, has resigned and one of their top ministers, Ruairi Quinn, has also announced his resignation.
Where does the much-trumpeted legislation for the abortion of unborn children introduced by the Republic of Ireland’s Government now stand? Currently it seems to be in some trouble. It sounds even worse – depending on your point of view – that President Obama’s Obamacare debacle.
The Irish College of Psychiatrists has advised its members not to participate in reviewing cases where women might look for an abortion expressing suicidal thoughts. They want proper clinical guidelines and the provision of these is fraught with difficulty – indeed some would say are impossible because they will be unable to provide doctor with any kind of legal protection.
The College has described the enactment of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act without clinical guidelines as “very haphazard and unsatisfactory” and has expressed “extreme concern” at the absence of any guidance for general medical practitioners on accessing suitable psychiatrists to assess a pregnant woman showing signs of suicidality; at the absence of guidelines for a psychiatrist seeking a second psychiatric opinion; and the lack of training for obstetricians in up-to-date psychiatric issues as well as for psychiatrists in obstetric issues.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act came into force on January 1st. A “Guidelines on Implementation Committee” was appointed last year by the Department of Health to draw up clinical guidelines on how the legislation would work in practice but this has yet to report.
The Act provides that a pregnant woman who is expressing suicidal thoughts and seeking an abortion may have one if three medical practitioners, including two psychiatrists, have “jointly certified in good faith” that there is a real and substantial risk to her life by suicide which can only be averted by an abortion.
There is also provision for a review panel, to be “established and maintained” by the Health Service Executive (HSE) “of at least 10 medical practitioners”. On this basis the HSE must request medical bodies, including the College of Psychiatrists, to nominate members to be appointed to it. Psychiatrists are not at all happy with this.
Miriam Silke, representing the College, told The Irish Times that until the guidelines were issued the college would not recommend to its members participation in the panel. “We simply do not know when they will be issued. We have not heard anything since the Bill came into law. I presume work is progressing but they aren’t imminent. It is very haphazard and unsatisfactory.”
“Dr Anthony McCarthy, perinatal psychiatrist at the National Maternity Hospital and former president of the college, said the new legislation failed to provide ‘real solutions’ for women in distress. A pregnant woman expressing suicidal thoughts would be seen by a psychiatrist, he said, but if that psychiatrist wanted to get a second opinion it was unclear how this would be obtained, the Times reported.
Dr. Ruth Cullen of the Irish ProLife Campaign issued a statement on the latest debacle on Saturday saying that “the deep-seated flaws in the Government’s new abortion law are starting to reveal themselves.”
Dr. Cullen added: “The Government knew perfectly well when it introduced the law that abortion is not a treatment for suicidal feelings and may in fact be detrimental to women’s health.
“The fact that the Government this week activated the new law without any clinical guidelines in place is further proof that the push for abortion legislation over the past year had everything to do with achieving an ideological goal rather than concern for women’s lives or the lives of their unborn babies.
“The truth behind the deep-seated flaws in the new legislation are starting to reveal themselves. This will only continue as more and more people begin to realise that the new law was never about evidence based medicine but about introducing an abortion regime in Ireland.”
Another fine mess from Prime Minister Kenny and his gifted Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly.