Fintan O’Toole: Abortion issue creates and sustains tribal politics

In 1983, the conservative Catholic John Healy could also be a staunch opponent of the Eighth Amendment

Then Minister for Health Charles Haughey with ‘Irish Times’ columnist John Healy, right, in November 1978 at the launch of ‘Nineteen Acres’, Healy’s new book, published by Kenny’s of Galway. Photograph: Tom Lawlor

Then Minister for Health Charles Haughey with ‘Irish Times’ columnist John Healy, right, in November 1978 at the launch of ‘Nineteen Acres’, Healy’s new book, published by Kenny’s of Galway. Photograph: Tom Lawlor

Watching the Claire Byrne Live debate on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment this week, it was hard not to despair of the possibility of a civil public discourse on the issue. And perhaps it was always naive to expect otherwise.

One of the things that makes abortion such a difficult question is that it has been very deliberately chosen as a dividing line. It has been shaped over many decades as a wedge to be driven into a relatively small crack and hammered again and again until the crack widens into an irreparable fissure.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.