Una Mullally: Borders of the middle ground being redrawn in abortion debate

Micheál Martin’s support for repeal of the Eighth Amendment is already being described as a key moment in the campaign

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said he will support the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and most of the recommendations of the Oireachtas committee which considered the State’s abortion regime. Video: Oireachtas TV

A referendum campaign begins when a date is called and ends when the votes are counted. Officially. But on social issues in Ireland, we know that’s not the case. “Matters of public debate” drag on for years, perhaps none more so than the issue of abortion. If a campaign is to happen in May or June, we’ll know the date soon. Then the slog will begin. Referendum campaigns have a seemingly endless capacity for drama, for personalities, for emotion.

Like all referendum campaigns, unexpected voices will carry weight. We know what feminist activists and clergy are going to argue. The same faces saying the same things breeds a sort of listlessness. It’s the unexpected voice that causes you to sit up and pay attention. This is why, in a campaign context, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin’s support for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy is already being described as a key moment in the campaign.

Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
only €1 first month

Insightful opinion is just a away.