Offaly-North Tipperary results: 58% of voters favour repeal
Renua leader John Leahy raises fears over children with disabilities and euthanasia
Renua’s John Leahy: “In 20 years’ time in this country you will see very few ‘disability kids’, kids with Down syndrome.” File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The Offaly-North Tipperary constituency has returned a Yes vote in the referendum with 58 per cent of voters favouring repeal.
The constituency is home to prominent No campaigners such as Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan, who was suspended when she voted against her party on the referendum issue, and Renua Ireland leader Cllr John Leahy.
Ms Nolan did not attend at the count centre, and could not be reached by phone.
Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD (FG) described the Yes result as a relief. She praised the “courage, bravery and conviction” of the Yes campaigners. “Almost all of them have never done anything like this before,” she pointed out.
Ms Corcoran Kennedy had been nervous going out canvassing, but found the campaign was “surprisingly lacking in polarisation” and that “in the main people wanted to talk”.
She said: “We were left with the conclusion that there wasn’t hardly a family in the country that didn’t know somebody or hadn’t been personally affected by fatal foetal anomaly, or rape, by some form of crisis. We were afraid to articulate it, but we did feel there was a silent Yes.”
She now wants legislation introduced quickly. “I think the people who voted Yes in such resounding numbers will be expecting swift Government action on this, and I think they will be intolerant of any attempt to filibuster, to delay legislation.”
She pointed out that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had strongly backed the Yes campaign. “Their hands have been very much strengthened by this. The people have spoken, the people have told us what they want to do, and it is our responsibility to do it,” she remarked.
Abortion referendum: Counting the votes
Offaly anti-abortion campaigner Claire Delaney, who was filmed by RTÉ last week speaking to Mr Varadkar during a Yes canvass in Offaly, expressed shock at the vote but said she would respect the result.
Battle in the Dáil
She thanked people for their support. “We believe that the battle now moves on to the floor of the Dáil,” she remarked, adding she would continue to campaign against abortion on demand.
“We believe that Ireland can do better for women and families – and just on a personal note I believe that a Trojan horse has entered our country.”
Renua Ireland leader John Leahy said: “It’s a landslide and people have come out in their droves – and you have to respect that.”
He questioned what direction Ireland was headed in, and expressed concern about what he said was a liberal agenda. “I would hate to think what is coming next because we have a cohort of TDs that are in Dáil Éireann that are constantly tampering with our culture, our traditional values.
“I think in order for them to be relevant they will have to come up with something new and what’s next, I don’t know,” he stated.
“My fear is that we could be looking at euthanasia in a couple of years’ time.”
According to Cllr Leahy, Renua, as the only anti-abortion party, would fill the political vacuum for voters who opposed the repeal of the Eighth.
“In 20 years’ time in this country you will see very few ‘disability kids’, kids with Down syndrome,” he claimed, adding doctors will advise people to abort babies who have disabilities.
“It is going to become rampant because at the end of the day you will take advice from a professional.
“Maybe people might say I am cynical, but if you haven’t got Down syndrome kids in the system that means you are not paying out a disability allowance, you are not paying out a carer’s allowance, you are not paying out a domiciliary care allowance…all this is a saving to the State.
“I do believe that unfortunately we are going to see less kids that have, maybe even slight disabilities, and that are we looking at trying to create the perfect world.”
Offaly enjoyed high turnout in the referendum, with 65 percent of the electorate voting.