The Eighth Amendment


Sir, – The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment has voted to not retain Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution in full. It arrived at this decision in the same way as the Citizens’ Assembly arrived at its decision – after listening to the testimony of legal and medical professionals with expertise in the field.

Reasoned analysis of the facts of this issue can only lead to the conclusion that repealing the Eighth Amendment and legislating for abortion access in line with the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly is the logical and compassionate thing to do.

Forcing women to travel, to illegally abort at home or to remain pregnant when they don’t want to is not the middle ground. Allowing women access to safe abortion, in line with our obligations under human rights law and the recommendations of the World Health Organisation, is. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Senator Rónán Mullen and Mattie McGrath TD have done the public considerable service by highlighting the bias in favour of repeal of the Eighth Amendment that exists on the Oireachtas committee set up to look at the issue.

They now face a dilemma, given that the committee, and its invited guests, are being paid for by us, the taxpayer. Should they stay on the committee, and lend it legitimacy in that way? Or should they resign their positions and withdraw their voices in favour of the rights of the unborn child, so badly needed at this time? On balance, I think they are more badly needed inside the Oireachtas body, but I welcome every comment they are prepared to make outside the gates of Leinster House as this very poor process continues. – Yours, etc,


Ennis, Co Clare.

A chara, – Critics of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment have long said that based on its behaviour it was all but a foregone conclusion that it would end with a recommendation for a far more liberal abortion regime in this country. They have been proven right much sooner than they expected by the committee’s latest brazen move (“Oireachtas committee votes for abortion law change”, October 19th).

The committee has months yet to sit, with speakers still lined up to appear before it; but it has already voted to agree that, come what may, it will recommend that the Eighth will not be allowed to remain unchanged in our Constitution. There will no longer be even a pretense that protecting the right to life of the unborn is something that it is willing to consider; instead, it will move directly to discussing “options for repealing or replacing the amendment”.

Members of the committee say that their vote will send a “signal” to the Irish people. Indeed it does. And it is a signal that shatters any notion that this was ever an impartial process or that it was intended to be so. – Is mise,


Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – So what’s the point of a Fianna Fáil ardfheis? Hard-working and engaged party members gather to debate the policy issues of the day with a view to charting the party’s way forward. However, votes taken at an ardfheis, after often intense debate, are utterly meaningless, as party policy is actually decided by the leader and a close coterie of like-minded senior party colleagues and advisers. The party faithful are a sometimes embarrassing necessity.

A matter of hours after the ardfheis voted overwhelmingly not to interfere with the rights of unborn children as enunciated in the Constitution, party leader Micheál Martin was on RTÉ Radio 1’s This Week programme distancing himself from that vote by claiming that all of the party were not at the ardfheis!

Yet one minute earlier when Brian Dowling put to him that he now had a mandate from the ardfheis for the party to contest the next presidential election he replied, “I do”, with not a mention of the wider party’s absence in formulating that mandate.

And then on Wednesday night not a single Fianna Fáil member on the Dáil committee voted to retain the Eighth Amendment, predictably ignoring the ardfheis decision.

So my question again – what exactly is the point of a Fianna Fáil ardfheis?

Perhaps it’s simply another example of our political masters putting on a circus to create the illusion of inclusion? – Yours, etc,


Windy Arbour, Dublin 14.

Sir, – A letter-writer (October (October 18th) commends Fianna Fáil on its vote to safeguard the constitutional right of the unborn. So where does this leave room for the constitutional rights of a woman with an unwanted pregnancy or with a fatal foetal abnormality? It seems to me that their message of “An Ireland for All” does not include the above women. – Yours, etc,


Glencar, Co Sligo.