The UN, Ireland and abortion


A chara, – So the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is saying Ireland “must” hold a referendum on abortion (“UN committee seeks Irish abortion vote”, June 22nd). And since they want us to to repeal the Eighth Amendment to address the committee’s concern at our “highly restrictive legislation on abortion,” presumably that means they are saying we “must” vote Yes as well. Who knew the UN had so much power?

But wait! Their “must” is contained in a list of recommendations in a report; and a recommendation is something that can just as easily be rejected as accepted. So really this is less a “must” than a “this is what we think you should do” said in a hectoring tone accompanied by a frowning look and lot of finger-wagging.

That makes a lot more sense. After all, the last time I looked, the UN didn’t have the authority to dictate to member states how they manage their internal affairs; and certainly none of its multitude of committees doesn’t have that power. Therefore, the only thing we “must” do with this report and its recommendations is politely nod and smile, and then do as we ourselves see fit. – Is mise,



Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – I would dearly love to know why successive governments allow us to go through the charade of appearing before various UN committees so that our human, social and economic rights can be parsed and analysed? Even a cursory glance at the membership of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights reveals a membership made up of some of the most repressive regimes on the world that have the brass neck to be lecturing us on human rights. – Yours, etc,



Co Clare.

Sir, – I think the United Nations should concentrate on having Assad removed from power in Syria and on the dissolution of Islamic State instead of urging Ireland to introduce abortion. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 14.