Sir, – As co-convenors of Together for Yes, the national civil society campaign to remove the Eighth Amendment, we take opposition to Phelim McAleer's strange column where, armed with nothing more than a few anecdotes, he deems himself qualified to comment on the purported low level of public engagement of the Yes campaign ("Complacency may be undoing of repeal campaign", Opinion & Analysis, April 30th).
Despite his frustrated attempts to engage on social media with Together For Yes activists, it seems to have escaped his notice that Together for Yes achieved a record-breaking crowdfunding appeal to raise over half a million euro in less than one week to ensure there will be Yes posters in every constituency in the country.
If Phelim McAleer had actually taken the time to speak to anyone involved in Together for Yes, he would know that our campaign has 45 regional groups, organising thousands of volunteers in every county in Ireland, committed to engaging in conversations in communities every single day of the week. He would be aware that during our National Canvassing Day on Saturday we knocked on doors in every county, speaking with hundreds of people and distributing thousands of leaflets.
Unlike your columnist, we have actually spent our days speaking with people the length and breadth of the country and we have found that people open to hearing our message of care and compassion. We believe that people understand that women facing crisis pregnancies need the best healthcare possible here at home in Ireland.
We believe that Ireland is a compassionate country, that we respect each other and that we want to be there for each other in time of need. People are no longer prepared to continue to stand by and let thousands of women in Ireland have unsupported abortions every single year,.
Together for Yes has, from day one, committed itself as campaign to talking, respectfully and inclusively with everyone.
Between now and referendum day we will be telling stories and explaining facts.
We will bring people together from all backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives together to work towards one common goal, a Yes vote on May 25th! – Yours, etc,
Together for Yes,
Sir, – As the administrators of the Repeal Shield twitter account, we would appreciate the opportunity to clarify some points made by Phelim McAleer.
Repeal Shield is a twitter account which uses the freely available “Block Together” tool to block accounts that we feel have been abusive, have spread misinformation about repeal or abortion, or have engaged in consistent trolling of pro-choice accounts.
Our 3,000 users have signed up voluntarily and we have blocked in excess of 8,000 accounts on their behalf.
Contrary to Phelim McAleer’s assertion, none of these accounts have been blocked because of their anti-repeal views. They have been blocked because of the manner of their engagement.
It is also important to note that Repeal Shield users can unsubscribe at any time.
However, our feedback is that the overwhelming majority find their twitter experience greatly enhanced by using the tool.
Finally, Repeal Shield is not affiliated to, or materially supported by, any of the organisations set up to campaign for repeal.
We are an entirely voluntary group set up in order to counter lies and abuse from those who oppose repeal and do not engage in respectful, civilised debate. – Yours, etc,
Sir, In recent days (May 1st), William Binchy and others have made certain misleading comments about the draft Bill to regulate termination of pregnancy published by the Government. The unfounded suggestions about abortion of healthy babies after viability, or on grounds of disability, have already been rebutted in these pages and elsewhere.
I would urge anyone with concerns to read the text of the Bill itself, or to consult the excellent legal information website aboutthe8th.com.
However, the most important fact about the draft Bill is that we as legislators will not be able to debate it or introduce any provision for legal abortion, on any ground, unless the referendum passes. Under the Eighth Amendment, we cannot legislate for abortion even in cases of serious risk to a woman’s health, rape or fatal foetal abnormality. Some 35 years and many tragic cases later, we should know that it is simply not appropriate to regulate a complex health matter like abortion through the rigid legal text of our Constitution. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Wendy Lyon (May 2nd) writes that elected representatives “do not simply appear out of nowhere, take what they want from us and then vanish without trace”. Is this Ireland or a different place she is talking about? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Dr Claire Gleeson (May 2nd) reassures us that in the UK, “late abortion is rare”.
Dr Gleeson’s justification is that “92 per cent of abortions are carried out before 13 weeks gestation”. That means in 2016 alone 16,198 of 202,469 total abortions were “late”. Rare? Really? – Yours, etc,