Impressive words and actions from Varadkar on #RepealThe8th announcement but how media will frame the debate remains to be seen

THE ISSUE

After much urging to announce both date and format regarding a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, Leo Varadkar’s government has finally done so.

THE MEDIA

Article by Rónán Duffy in The Journal on January 30, 2018

‘We’re asking people to trust women’: Repeal referendum to be held before the end of May

“We know that thousands of Irish women, women from every single county in Ireland, travel abroad for abortions every year. We know that women obtain abortion pills through the post to end their pregnancies without any medical support or counselling or supervision. So we already have abortion in Ireland, but it’s unsafe, unregulated and unlawful. In my opinion we cannot continue to export our problems and import our solutions,”

THE COMMENT

After much waiting, we have finally heard from the Irish Government on the issue of the Eighth Amendment, and for the most part it was the news we wanted to hear.  The referendum is to be held at the end of May, and for the most part, the vote is to be on a straight repeal.

It is natural for Pro-Choice campaigners to remain sceptical, however.

First, I have questions on this intervention by the Attorney General on the need to have wording left in the Constitution which allows the Oireachtas to legislate.  Why wasn’t this information given to both the Citizens’ Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee?  Or, if it was, then why are we choosing to ignore their findings?

And second, this quote from Duffy’s article concerns me…

Speaking at Government Buildings this evening about his own views on the referendum, Varadkar said that he would be campaigning to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Given that Micheal Martin of Fianna Fail has managed to contort his own position into something similar to the Taoiseach of late, I sincerely hope that the Irish mainstream media does not consider the two ‘Civil War party’ leaders to be the foremost spokespeople of the Yes campaign between now and the referendum.

They are both leaders of political organisations that have been given free votes to their parliamentarians so we would hope that parties with stated positions on Repeal, as well as other organisations, will be given sufficient time to present their case when the debate takes place in the public domain.

All of that remains to be seen, but for now, this can only be seen as a positive step.  JLP

#IANWAE

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The story is that Roy Moore lost, not that the other guy won…what’s his name again?

THE ISSUE

In one of the most widely reported elections in US Senate history, in the heavily-Republican state of Alabama which Trump won in 2016 by 28 percentage points, accused paedophile Roy Moore was defeated by his Democratic challenger Don James.  No, sorry, it was Dan Jenkins.  Or was it Doug Jones.  Nah, I was right the first time.  I think.

THE MEDIA

Article by CNN.com on Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Roy Moore won’t concede

“You know, part of the thing — part of the problem with this campaign is we’ve been painted in an unfavorable and unfaithful light.”

THE COMMENT

I think I can safely say that I’ve never been this happy about the results from an Alabama Senate race.

You might think this is ‘Fake News’ but when I opened half an eyelid at 4:30am Irish time this morning and looked at my phone, the banner on the CNN notification read : ‘Roy Moore loses’.   Surely in pretty much any other race the headline would refer to the guy who won?  Well, this wasn’t any other race.

This was an amazing win for the Democrats, albeit with a perfect storm of controversy on the other side, but they still had to pick the right guy and run the right campaign to get him over the line, so bravo.

What interests me right now is how the President will react, and more importantly, how his inner circle will react.  Do they sit down with him and come up with a proper spin to present to the media?  Or do they sit down WITHOUT him first and come up with a spin to present to HIM?  I think we all know it’s the latter.

No doubt the spin will be something like ‘Roy would have lost by even more [Moore?] were it not for the President’s endorsement’.  Sure.

#IANWAE

Inevitable attack on #RepealThe8th movement targets Amnesty Ireland and Colm O’Gorman

THE ISSUE

Colm O’Gorman is both Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland and a leader of the #RepealThe8th campaign, thus making him a prime target for the so-called ‘Pro-Life’ movement.

THE MEDIA

Article by Amnesty International from Amnesty.ie on Friday, December 8, 2017

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS UNDER THREAT FROM DRACONIAN LAW AND AMNESTY COULD FACE CRIMINAL CHARGES

SIPOC wrote to Amnesty International Ireland only last year to acknowledge that its work on reforming Ireland’s abortion laws, which includes the work supported by the OSF grant, was not in breach of the [Electoral] Act

THE COMMENT

My attention was drawn to this matter by a string of ‘outrage’ posts from the usual right-wing suspects on Twitter such as John McGuirk and Evert Bopp.

The perennial trolls make several references to supposed ‘illegal actions’ by Amnesty.ie and have been recycling the same argument all weekend.  Obviously only a fool would take their social media opinions at face value without making an effort to get Amnesty’s side of the story, which is very different as you can see by the above link.

What interests me about this is how the law in question is being applied.  Ireland is great at passing laws but when it comes to enforcing them, not so much.  While it does look like Amnesty was in technical violation of the said Act, it also seems that they were singled out by the authority in question, after previously being advised that they were ok.

Imagine a road with a 60km speed limit on which cars travel daily above and beyond that level without penalty.  Suddenly a group of ‘concerned citizens’ inform the gardaí about one vehicle in particular, after which an officer is dispatched with a speed gun to patrol the road to catch that one suspect without checking all the others.

We could use another analogy, calling this a political equivalent of racial profiling.  Amnesty [and by extension the Irish mainstream media for not covering this to the liking of Messrs McGuirk and Bopp] are being accused of political bias when you would have to question the motives of those who initiated this controversy by registering a string of complaints with SIPOC.

I wonder how much scrutiny of funding the likes of Iona Institute and Libertas could handle.

With public opinion strongly in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution, it was inevitable that the so-called ‘Pro-Life’ movement would work behind the scenes to pull any kind of stunt they could to try and tip the scales the other way.  It’s a shame that they have managed to persuade and official body to help them in their cause, but hopefully enough people see sense to realise for what it is and not take it any further.

#IANWAE

Big step for #RepealThe8th movement as Oireachtas committee set to back up Citizens’ Assembly

THE ISSUE

The Irish Government has been considering the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution which enshrined the protection of unborn children after a referendum in 1983.

THE MEDIA

Article by Sarah Bardon in Irish Times on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Oireachtas committee set to recommend repeal of Eighth Amendment

Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher said trying to replace or amend article 40.3.3 is not practical, insisting a straight repeal is the only option.

THE COMMENT

I’m no fan of Fianna Fáil but when they or Fine Gael or indeed any political party falls on the right side of an issue I’m happy to give them their due.

After hearing the opinion of experts from all points on the vast spectrum of this issue, first the Citizens’ Assembly and now a multi-party Oireachtas Committee, it seems the will of the Irish people has changed drastically from the two-thirds yes vote from the referendum back in Ireland’s Dark Ages, also known as the 80s.

Of course the so-called Pro Life movement is making accusations of ‘bias’ because apparently their ‘side’ of the argument didn’t get the 50/50 coverage they wanted but as I said earlier, it’s a spectrum rather than a two-sided coin and the Iona Institute position lies only at one extreme end and thus should receive a proportionate amount of exposure.

It’s not over yet though – this article simply states that the committee is ‘set to recommend’ repeal.  They still have to actually recommend it.  Then the Dáil needs to organise a referendum for straight repeal with a simple yes or no option for the Irish people, not some fudge involving complicated wording.

Here’s hoping the committee members go on to back up their words with action next week.

#IANWAE

It’s official – Trump White House believes in evolution!

He’s only been in the job for a couple of days [or to put it another way, only enough time for a few dozen angry Trump tweets] and already the new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has damaged the Trump 2020 re-election campaign.

Who could have possibly known that after being appointed to such a high profile job, the general public would trawl through his past tweets?  And there were certainly some gems found in there…

Scaramucci tweets

This is just one of several tweets which put Scaramucci in favour of strict gun control.  With the Republicans firmly in the pocket of the NRA, this clearly would not do.  How does the new Spin-Doctor General handle it?  Like this…

Oh, right! Well, that’s OK then!  So he has ‘evolved’, has he?  Fine.

So why don’t we just tuck this gem of a story in our back pocket until Trump runs for re-election, shall we?  Because you can be sure that the second the Democrats confirm their candidate, the GOP will start looking for dirt from their past, and that will no doubt include opinions they have held.

Clearly Scaramucci has provided them with the perfect response.  Assuming his tenure lasts to the 2020 campaign, that is – with this White House, you never know…  JLP

#IANWAE

 

 

Can you dispute any of these ten points as basic human rights?

1. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE FREE.
2. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HEALTHY.
3. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE BRILLIANT.
4. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SAFE.
5. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE LOVED.
6. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE COURAGEOUS.
7. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE ALIVE.
8. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE TRUSTED.
9. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE EDUCATED.
10. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.

What is your reaction to those ten points?

  1. Is it something like  – “Yes, they all make sense.”
  2. Or is it something like – “No, that’s bullshit.”
  3. Or is it something like – “Hmmm….tell me what the source is first?”

If it is the second one, fine.  Off you go.  You’re welcome to this site, but you probably won’t find anything you want here.

If it’s the third one, fine – here’s the source.

Now you know the source, is your answer 1 or 2?

Just a thought for the day.  Hat-tip to The Edge of Sports podcast.

Sorry we haven’t been posting much lately.  We hope to get back to it soon.  JLP

#IANWAE

Social Democrats call for separation of Church and State after #TuamBabies

We’re not sharing this Dáil speech by Catherine Murphy TD from the Social Democrats website because we have a particular preference for the party itself; it’s just we like the fact that something like this is being said in our national parliament.

“if Tuam has shown us anything it is that the State must take responsibility for its citizens and that the Church has no legitimacy in the healthcare, education or politics governing our citizens.”

No doubt there are other TDs who share Murphy’s sentiment, but unfortunately among the total amount of TD they would be very much in the minority.  I wonder if that would be the case if a referendum were held on the matter?