Rhetoric and the Eighth Amendment

Sir, – The article by Ivana Bacik and Sinead Ahern ("Repeal the Eighth Amendment for the sake of our daughters", November 25th) is strong on rhetoric, weak on facts and totally silent on the babies whose lives are at stake if the Eighth Amendment is removed.

The rhetoric (“blight over an entire generation”, etc) is, frankly, ridiculous for a country with a very good record of maternal care in pregnancy

The tone is also extremely self-satisfied and complacent. “Groups of artists, doctors and trade unionists” has a nice ring to it, but the numbers are actually very small. I think I am correct in saying that we have more than 30,000 health professionals in this country, but that just 17 of them signed the recent Amnesty open letter.

Media support for repealing the Eighth Amendment is there for all to see. Voter support is another matter entirely.


– Yours, etc,



Co Waterford.

Sir, – Taoiseach Enda Kenny has declared that he will give Fine Gael TDs a free vote on repeal of the Eighth Amendment following a constitutional convention on the matter to be held after the general election. This begs a simple question: why?

Whether Fine Gael likes it or not, repeal of the Eighth Amendment is a live issue in this election; people of all opinions are raising it on the doorsteps, campaigns from both sides of the debate are in full swing, and the Greens and Labour have had the courage to put an actual policy in place.

One does not need a rarefied process of discussion with a small number of “the people” and elected representatives to know there is sufficient disagreement and momentum to justify a referendum on repeal; one simply needs to respond to the demands of the polity.

The last time Fine Gael established a convention to consider constitutional change it held referenda on two of the emerging proposals (marriage equality and presidential age), accepted three more, parked eight, rejected five, gave unclear responses to two, and ignored 20.

Given this track record, can the Taoiseach’s commitment to “considering” repeal of the Eighth Amendment be called a “policy”, not to mention an example of leadership?

– Yours, etc,


University of Birmingham

School of Law.