DISCUSSION: The Irish abortion referendum – what now?

May 27, 2018

We’ve set up this thread to cover the political and social aspects and implications of the Irish abortion referendum.

It is very specifically NOT for discussion on abortion itself: any comments on that should continue to go on the An Exchange on Abortion thread. Equally, comments about the political/social aspects and implications of the Irish result should be posted here, not there.

There have already been several relevant comments posted on the Open Discussion thread – May 2018 and An Exchange on Abortion threads. In the interests of keeping this discussion here, we have removed them from those threads and put them here instead. Not something we normally do, since they will all show as having been posted by us, but in this case it’s the only way of maintaining the correct sequence.

For copyright reasons, could we ask users not to post the contents of entire articles from other sources, please. A link plus a few key lines from the text is generally acceptable, but for understandable reasons, news sources tend to object to their entire content being made available elsewhere. We realize that access to some news content is restricted geographically, but this, too, is for legal reasons and, as a site that features so many news sources, we do need to be careful to comply.

Thanks – The mods

 

41 comments on “DISCUSSION: The Irish abortion referendum – what now?

  • ORIGINALLY POSTED BY MARCO, Open Discussion, 2018/05/25 at 6:41 pm

    2 exit polls are pointing to a massive landslide (68%) for Yes in the Irish abortion referendum – i.e. to repeal the 8th Amendment that currently makes abortion illegal in almost all circumstances, including rape and danger to the woman’s life.

    The times, they are a’changing, and this is another huge blow to the Catholic church in Ireland.

    America’s Rabid Religious Right are looking more and more isolated on the world stage.

  • GARRICK, Open Discussion, 2018/05/25 at 2018/05/26 at 12:54 am

    Marco #116

    2 exit polls are pointing to a massive landslide (68%) for Yes in the
    Irish abortion referendum . . .

    This is very good news in view of wider concerns in Ireland as well. Whatever arrangement will be found to be best for relations between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic as the UK prepares to leave the EU, sorting this out will be much easier if the Irish Republic shows itself to be a genuinely secular state in which the Roman Catholic church has none of the influence it once had in Irish politics.

  • ARKRID SANDWICH, Open Discussion, 2018/05/25 at 2018/05/26 at 1:27 am

    LaurieB #117

    Solidarity with Irish women. Fist bump.

    +1

  • PHIL RIMMER, Open Discussion, 2018/05/26 at 2:52 am

    So, this is how society is changed-

    Exit poll breakdown

    Men – Yes: 66% No: 34%; Women – Yes: 72% No: 28%

    18-24 year olds – Yes: 88% No: 12%

    25-34 year olds – Yes: 85% No: 15%

    35-49 year olds – Yes: 73% No: 27%

    50-64 year olds – Yes: 64% No: 36%

    65+ year olds – Yes: 41% No: 59%

    -by generation.

    The anger at the condescension and decades of real harm and exploitation of the RCC are creating a real push-back.

    I can’t wait to see how this play’s in the USA.

    How long before evangelical folks there realise the jig is up.

  • ALAN4DISCUSSION, Exchange on abortion, 2018/05/26 at 4:47 am

    <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44241521&quot; rel="nofollow">http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44241521</a&gt;

    Irish abortion referendum: Exit polls suggest landslide for repeal

    Counting has started in the Irish abortion referendum, hours after exit polls suggested a landslide vote in favour of liberalising the law.

    Polls by The Irish Times and RTÉ suggested about 69% voted to repeal a part of the constitution that effectively bans terminations.

    Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who supported the reforms, said it looked as if the country was about to “make history”.

    Counting began at 09:00 local time.

    The official result is expected on Saturday evening.

    […]

    Broadcaster RTÉ’s exit poll suggested 69.4% in favour of the Yes side and 30.6% for No. In Dublin, 79% of people voted for repeal, according to the RTÉ poll.

    If these figures are correct, this debunks the the noisy Catholic Church and its sheeple-parrots’ claims to represent public opinion!

    [Remainder of article via the link – Mods.]

  • ALAN4DISCUSSION, Exchange on abortion, 2018/05/26 at 5:25 am

    The “Save the eighth” anti-abortion campaign group has now conceded that they have lost the Irish referendum vote!

  • PHIL RIMMER, Open Discussion, 2018/05/26 at 5:30 am

    Alan #129

    Perhaps going to the abortion thread is the right thing.

    But for me the Irish vote has nothing to do with the rights and wrongs of abortion. If there is no conceivable capacity for suffering by the foetus as general synapse formation doesn’t even begin until week 27, then the remaining issues are all about politics and the control of women.

    I would love to see an, Ireland/Catholic Church/what-now topic. This result reveals a political head of steam that has great potential for further use. I would like to see a pick apart of the scientific lies they and their supporters used and drive them out of their remaining political influence of decent folk.

  • ALAN4DISCUSSION, Exchange on abortion, 2018/05/26 at 6:06 am

    phil rimmer (open thread)

    I would love to see an, Ireland/Catholic Church/what-now
    topic.

    I think an imminent “What now?” discussion, will take place in Northern Ireland, which also has Protestant supported, very restrictive abortion laws – totally out of keeping with the rest of the UK!

  • MARCO, Open Discussion, 2018/05/26 at 8:21 am

    But for me the Irish vote has nothing to do with the rights and
    wrongs
    of abortion.

    Indeed. This is a political discussion that I posted here for that very reason.

    I have a feeling that, from a number of perspectives, Northern Ireland is going to be one of the most interesting focal points over the coming weeks, months and (small number of) years. Someone on Twitter (@peterkgeoghegan) commented that “Basically Protestant Northern Ireland is now the last bulwark of Catholic Ireland social policies” and he’s quite right. Deeply, deeply ironic, given the long history of often violent strife between Catholics and Protestants on the island of Ireland. (For anyone outside the UK who isn’t familiar with the background, Northern Ireland, while part of the UK, is the only part of it that still outlaws both abortion and equal marriage.)

    Add to that the enormous pressure being built up over the devastating consequences of Brexit for the continued non-existence of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – a commitment signed up to by the UK and Irish governments as part of the all-important Good Friday Agreement that finally brought an end to the euphemistically named “Troubles” – and Northern Ireland, which voted strongly in favour of remaining in the EU, is now facing a real choice between being the most backward-looking part of an increasingly backward-looking UK, and embracing a more liberal, more open, almost certainly more prosperous future through reunification with the Republic.

  • ALAN4DISCUSSION, Exchange on abortion, 2018/05/26 at 1:33 pm

    The majority view is very clear!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-northern-ireland-44236535

    Ireland votes decisively to relax its abortion laws

    For 1,429,981

    Against 723,632

    Majority 706,349

    The percentage result was Yes 66.4%, No 33.6%

    Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Michelle O’Neill told Sky News “the women in the north deserve the same rights as the women in the south.

    Limerick County: Yes 24,448 (58.1%), no 17,644 (41.9%)

    Limerick City: Yes 32,169 (66.9%), no 15,941 (33.1%)

    Louth: Yes 46,429 (66.6%), no 23,333 (33.4%)

    Tipperary: Yes 42,731 (59.1%), no 29,516 (40.9%)

    Kildare South: Yes 27,307 (70.7%), no 11,339 (29.3%)

    Kildare North: 40,058 (73.6%), no 14,399 (26.4%)

    Clare: Yes 34,328 (64.3%), no 19,079 (35.7%)

    Wexford: Yes 49,935 (68.4%), no 23,069 (31.6%)

    Laois: Yes 24,232 (61.4%), no 15,264 (38.6%)

    Waterford: Yes 37,016 (69.4%), no 16,296 (30.6%)

    Carlow/Kilkenny: Yes 44,211 (63.5%), no 25,418 (36.5%)

    Wicklow: Yes 54,629 (74.3%), no 18,931 (25.7%)

    Cork North-Central: Yes 33,639 (64.02%), no 18,908 (35.98%)

    Cork South Central: Yes 40,071 (68.84%), no 18,138 (31.16%)

    Dublin Central: Yes 18,863 (76.51%), no 5,790 (23.49%)

    Galway East: Yes 26,525 (60.18%), no 17,546 (39.81%)

    Offaly: Yes 24,781 (58.1%), no 17,908 (41.9%)

    Dublin North-West: Yes 28,477 (73.1%), no 10,489 (26.9%)

    Meath East: Yes 30,686 (69.2%), no 13,652 (30.8%)

    Roscommon-Galway: Yes 23,677 (57.2%), no 17,709

  • ALAN4DISCUSSION, Exchange on abortion, 2018/05/27 at 5:09 am

    I see that the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party), which is propping up the Tory brexiteers in Westminster, is making noises about resisting abortion reforms in Northern Ireland!

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/leading-tory-women-revolt-against-may-0c9nbvgll

    Leading Tory women revolt against Theresa May over Northern Ireland abortion laws

    Irish abortion vote sparks demand for reform

    Theresa May is facing open revolt from senior Tory women over abortion after Ireland’s historic vote to lift a ban on terminations.

    Penny Mordaunt, the women and equalities minister, and her four predecessors urged the prime minister to allow a free vote in parliament to reform Northern Ireland’s draconian abortion laws.

    Mordaunt, the cabinet minister responsible, said yesterday that the landslide victory to legalise abortion in the Irish referendum should now bring change north of the border.

    Downing Street fears that could destabilise the government by antagonising the socially conservative Democratic Unionist party (DUP), which May depends on for a commons majority.

    So we have one ideological bunch of fantasy-thinking political fanatics, propping up another bunch of fanciful political fanatics!

  • ALAN4DISCUSSION, Exchange on abortion, 2018/05/27 at 6:14 am

    Hopefully these havens of ignorant, bigoted, religious backwardness, can be brought out of the dark-ages, and into the 21st. century!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44266135

    Ireland abortion referendum: UK minister hopes for NI law change

    A landslide vote in favour of overturning Ireland’s abortion ban gives “hope” to Northern Ireland, UK minister Penny Mordaunt has said.

    The referendum result has sparked calls for the issue to be reassessed in Northern Ireland, where laws are much stricter than the rest of the UK.

    But Democratic Unionist MP (Rev.) Ian Paisley (Protestant ranting preacher and Northern Ireland MP.) said it “should not be bullied into accepting abortion on demand”.

    . . . . So that those like him can continue bullying women ?? 🙂

    [Remainder of article via the link – Mods.]

  • Awesome, Mods. Thank you.

    This spectacular shift in Irish politics, kicking institutionalised patriarchy in the nuts, and the generations of ever more critical views of it stacked up behind waiting to come in to land, generate lessons far and wide.

    Morality founded on a humanist reality counts, increasingly so, and will prevail soon enough, and for a good enough while.

    Ireland is a small country, doubly colonised and appropriated by malefactors who cared little for the people’s suffering so long as their interests prevailed. It strives to be part of something bigger, presumably, in part, to stave off such parasitism. However, this position opens it up to a much wider flux of experience than say Texas or Tennessee. Whilst, at last, kids from southern USA have a chance of a bigger cultural flux than before, given social media, the patriarchs have doubled down on homeschooling and shutting down science education.

    The Irish outcome should be hushed up if the southern states have their wits about them, but I’m betting the competitive preachers will need to use it as a lesson to further scare their flock. I’m seriously hoping they do. Yes this is a fabulous example of women taking back control of their lives and bodies from men, but it is an awesome example of the young kindly smothering the old before they do too much damage. This needs to be in the cultural flux of Texas kids. We need the young over here (on this side of the pond) promoting the hell out this result to southern states kids, in a thought provoking way.

    This result shows it is not about ensoulment at conception. Suffering was not high on the agenda, either, though the insistence on “Unborn Child” sought to exploit that implicitly. Like the contraception tantrums this was about Papa and patriarchy putting wanton hussies in their place.

    So, like getting kids (teens) active in pushing back here, far more should women take the lead about patriarchal practises, over there. Nor should we worry too much about tackling religion head on. Tackling the religious patriarchy is like tackling its very root.

  • Conservative women MPs, equalities minister Penny Mordaunt and Sarah Wollaston, the MP and doctor who chairs the Commons health committee, are pushing for a reversal of Northern Ireland’s anti abortion stance. The latter proposes direct legislation and failing that a referendum.

    Of course, Teresa May, depends critically on the 10 DUP MPs and the DUP comment on liberalising abortion laws or a referendum, “NEVER!”

  • @#12 – Penny Mordaunt, the women and equalities minister, and her four predecessors urged the prime minister to allow a free vote in parliament to reform Northern Ireland’s draconian abortion laws.

    Mordaunt, the cabinet minister responsible, said yesterday that the landslide victory to legalise abortion in the Irish referendum should now bring change north of the border.

    phil rimmer #15
    May 28, 2018 at 4:46 am

    Of course, Teresa May, depends critically on the 10 DUP MPs and the DUP comment on liberalising abortion laws or a referendum, “NEVER!”

    So while Teresa May is dependent on the DUP for her brexiteer and fudgist majority of dodging hide-and-seek fantasists in Westminster, the DUP still cannot get their act together with Sinn Féin, to form a regional coalition government in Northern Ireland, – leaving Northern Ireland currently directly ruled from the central government in Westminster!

    What we have is an alliance of backward ideological reactionaries, clinging to power in the face of the demands from the people and expert advisors in a modern democracy!

    @#11 – Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Michelle O’Neill told Sky News “the women in the north deserve the same rights as the women in the south.

    Interestingly, Sinn Féin which has traditionally been associated with the IRA and Catholicism, is now calling for parity abortion rights of the women in NORTHERN IRELAND, while the protestant DUP is vehemently opposed to this!

    @#13 link – Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable
    said the UK government should take advantage of
    the current lack of a devolved administration in Northern Ireland.

    He said: “Since there is, effectively, direct rule from Westminster,
    the government has responsibility and it can and should
    take the opportunity to deal with this issue properly.

    It looks like there would be a clear majority in the House of Commons, but as with brexit and the D.U.P., Teresa May (like Cameron before her), is more concerned with ducking issues to hold the failing Tory Party together and keep its sponsors happy, than in looking after the best interests of the country and its people!

  • And yet whilst there is good movement for change around NI (not least the UK government offering free UK based abortion services to NI women and (means tested) coverage of travel and accommodation expenses) something is a little flat in the internal push for change.

    Whilst the call for change stands at 74%, from statistics on abortion attitudes taken in 2016 (I need to find the link), this call is not(!) being led by women or the young. Neither group has been galvanised by outrage. Female leadership was poor in NI (21% female MPs) compared with the rest of the UK (32% and going up).

    The lack of a devolved administration is catastrophic leaving NI progress in the doldrums.

    Those 10 DUP politicians so needed by Teresa May are 9 men and a rather disingenuous-on-abortion woman.

    http://www.alliance4choice.com/news/2017/6/little-pengellys-factual-summary-doesnt-reflect-reality-of-abortion-law-in-northern-ireland

    Sinn Fein I understand has moved towards very limited abortion rights, but in being pro a United Ireland may feel obliged to go further.

  • Alan #16

    It looks like there would be a clear majority in the House of Commons,
    but as with brexit and the D.U.P., Teresa May (like Cameron before
    her), is more concerned with ducking issues to hold the failing Tory
    Party together and keep its sponsors happy, than in looking after the
    best interests of the country and its people!

    This is where I find myself caught between two – in this case conflicting – sets of views and values.

    Absolutely: Theresa May is of course in thrall to the DUP and isn’t going to do anything to jeopardise their tacky deal to keep her in power. Whatever she may claim, there is only one principle in play here.

    And I am delighted that the referendum result in the Republic of Ireland was so resounding. Couldn’t be happier.

    And of course I find it monstrous that women in Northern Ireland still don’t have the final say over what happens to their bodies (and lives), and would love to see similar progress in Northern Ireland too.

    But

    But

    But

    But …

    As a Scot watching in horror and rage as Westminster attempts to push through an enormous power grab in the wake of Brexit, undermining the devolved administrations, clawing back control over areas that were never previously reserved to Westminster – despite massive support among Scots for devolution and cross-Party (except the Tories, of course) opposition to the power grab in the Scottish Parliament – I will not support ANY Westminster intervention in matters that are reserved to any devolved administration.

    The situation is of course complicated by the lack of a devolved administration in Northern Ireland at the moment. Nevertheless, an intervention of this kind by Westminster would set a very dangerous precedent, given the avowedly centralising tendencies of the May government.

    For me the only way of reconciling these two conflicting principles would be for this to be resolved in Northern Ireland itself. And I do harbour some hope that we might see some movement in this direction in the wake of the vote in the Republic. I find it hard to believe that the DUP are going to retain this much power and influence after the next election. Surely, with all the concern about a return of a hard Irish border, their hard line on Brexit must come back and bite them at some point. And while Northern Ireland has never been the most progressive part of the UK, we may possibly be about to see it start to reject its most meanly regressive elements. I certainly hope so.

    In summary, then:

    Northern Ireland, get your act together, please.

    Westminster, get your hands off.

  • phil rimmer #17
    May 28, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Sinn Fein I understand has moved towards very limited abortion rights,
    but in being pro a United Ireland may feel obliged to go further.

    I likewise, would suspect that this is the on the basis of political opportunism, rather than any sudden split with the RCC and conversion to fighting for women’s rights!

    As with UKIP, The brexiteering fringes of other parties, and the present Italian situation, there is every reason to believe, that rebel fringe parties, having fought “the establishment”, will then fail to produce any coherent constructive policies, and will simply carry on fighting with each other or rebelling against their own leaders!

  • Marco #18
    May 28, 2018 at 7:56 am

    For me the only way of reconciling these two conflicting principles would be for this to be resolved in Northern Ireland itself. And I do harbour some hope that we might see some movement in this direction in the wake of the vote in the Republic. I find it hard to believe that the DUP are going to retain this much power and influence after the next election.

    Perhaps moves towards Westminster legislation, MIGHT give the DUP and Sinn Féin, the kick up the backside required to get devolved government going again!

    As a Scot watching in horror and rage as Westminster attempts to push through an enormous power grab in the wake of Brexit, undermining the devolved administrations, clawing back control over areas that were never previously reserved to Westminster – despite massive support among Scots for devolution and cross-Party (except the Tories, of course) opposition to the power grab in the Scottish Parliament

    On the subject of devolved powers or an independent Scotland (as commented to my wife’s Scottish cousin), my views depend on the Westminster government, brexit, and where the Scottish border is drawn!

    Living in the North of England, in the case of a hard-brexit, I would favour an independent Scotland in the EU, with a new border either from the Humber to the Mersey, or from the Severn to the Wash! 🙂

  • Here’s the link I was looking for…

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/nilt/2016/Abortion/

    You need to click on each case proposed.

    Whilst the indication is very much for greatly increased liberalisation the utter absence of momentum from the age group or ownership of the issue by women suggests little political motion.

    The women of Northern Ireland republican and unionist played a huge role in jointly pushing for peace in the region. I hope this stalled female emancipation can restart with republicans taking a lead.

    Marco, and now Scottish! What else don’t we know? Sapiens or Selkie?

    I appreciate not wanting to see any rescinding of autonomy, yet, petty re-nationalisms undoing egregious historic colonialisms can become egregious in their turn. Identities are best decided by topic and increasingly need to be manifold. Feminism needs to reach across borders more. I hope that if the UK feminist MPs (all Labour and perhaps 50% Tory) are not going to spread the boons of emancipation and bodily autonomy of women uniformly across the Kingdom, then perhaps the feminists of the south will inspire women inside to push harder for themselves. Remember this NI autonomy is not one of identity but of peace making compromise between the two actually desired identities.

  • Alan -Just briefly, what is “the present Italian situation,”?

    Phil or anyone, Is there any explanation for the Northern Irish women to be more conservative on reproductive issues than the south? I would have guessed the opposite to be true. Of course I’m projecting my local politics onto another country which can’t always hold true. I had imagined that the Protestant women would be more progressive on these issues as the mainline Protestants in N.England generally are. The evangelicals are a different bunch entirely. Here our mainline Protestants serve as a pushback against the agenda of the formidable Catholic church. But what am I missing here with the Northern Irish? When I heard the results of this latest election I assumed that the North would immediately and easily follow suit and then on to liberalize abortion laws in all other areas there.

    I’m learning plenty from this exchange. Carry on!

  • LaurieB #22
    May 28, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Alan -Just briefly, what is “the present Italian situation,”?

    Rather like devolved government in Northern Ireland – It’s a shambles!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44280046

    Italian President Sergio Mattarella has asked an ex-IMF economist to form a government as the country faces fresh political turmoil.

    Carlo Cottarelli became known as “Mr Scissors” for his cuts to public spending in Italy.

    His appointment came after efforts by Italy’s two populist parties to form a coalition government collapsed.

    But the move is a temporary measure and the PM-in-waiting says he will hold new elections by early next year.

    Italy, the EU’s fourth-biggest economy, has been without a government since elections in March because no political group can form a majority.

    Two of the big winners from the vote – Five Star and the League – attempted to join forces but abandoned efforts after the president vetoed their choice of finance minister.

    Mr Mattarella said he could not appoint the Eurosceptic Paolo Savona to the post, citing concern from investors at home and abroad.

    The rare move by the president sparked fury from both parties, who say they will reject Mr Cottarelli’s nomination in parliament.

    After the president blocked Mr Savona’s appointment, Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio called on parliament to impeach the president.

    The League’s chief Matteo Salvini also criticised the president’s decision, calling for mass protests and accusing Brussels and Germany of meddling.

    After meeting the president, Mr Cottarelli said he would present a programme to parliament, including a budget, to take Italy into new elections “at the beginning of 2019”.

    If he was unable to pass a programme, which appears likely at this stage, “the government would resign immediately… until elections are held after the month of August”, he added.

  • LaurieB #22
    May 28, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Alan -Just briefly, what is “the present Italian situation,”?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44275781

    What caused the crisis?

    A political novice, Giuseppe Conte, was proposed by the two populist parties as prime minister in an attempt to break Italy’s 11-week political deadlock.

    He went to meet Mr Mattarella to put forward choices for his cabinet but the president vetoed Mr Savona as finance minister, citing his fierce opposition to membership of the eurozone.

    Justifying his move, he said “uncertainty about our position in the euro has alarmed Italian and foreign investors”, and argued that Mr Savona’s stance clashed with the two parties’ own position on Europe.

    “I asked for… an authoritative person from the parliamentary majority who is consistent with the government programme… who isn’t seen as a supporter of a line that could probably, or even inevitably, provoke Italy’s exit from the euro,” Mr Mattarella said.

    He added that Mr Conte had refused to support “any other solution” and then surrendered his mandate to be PM.

    Under Italian law, the president has the right to reject the appointment of a cabinet member but the power is rarely used.

    According to the AFP news agency, it has happened at least three times before, including in 1994 when then-President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro blocked attempts by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to appoint his personal lawyer Cesare Previti as Minister of Justice.

    Shades of popularism and Trump?

  • Laurie #22

    There is a tremendous documentary series by RTE on the development of the Irish identity after the Easter Uprising and how Eamon de Valera used the institutions of the RCC as a quick fix national Identity. The north rather mirrored with an equally patriarchal Protestant version to show a keen cleaving to Englishness and the head of the Church the English Monarch. Mostly nasty, petty little men comically choosing to wear the outfit of a London City gent of the time.

    https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/7/12/1373632479892/Orangemen-parade-in-Belfa-010.jpg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=fb8be56c32b2a900779e3b2e1905385e

    These would-be Englanders by the preservative powers of hatred and hyper religion have cast a long and baleful shadow over the North.

    The access to BBC news and evidence of the outside world have allowed the population more generally to advance and they have modern views in the most part, but the DUP the most conservative of political force kept in place by a scared patriarchy remain in power and for instance aggressively prosecute abortion transgressions having a very chilling effect on the public (students become snitches, doctors, cowards). So we have the general wish for modern abortion laws, but no rising political tide to break through to change.

    Ireland recently have voted in magnificent leaders, and the charge against a mind and moral crippling patriarchy has captured the imaginations of of all the right folks. Ireland was ever intelligent, and witty and anarchic in character. Father Ted laid a path to reason as surely as any other argument. There is absolutely nothing to laugh at in Northern Ireland. No charming national character except one defined by a forgotten age and an increasingly irrelevant opposition to something or other.

  • Phil #21

    I appreciate not wanting to see any rescinding of autonomy, yet, petty
    re-nationalisms undoing egregious historic colonialisms can become
    egregious in their turn.

    I don’t want to digress too much onto the topic of Scotland’s position in the Union, but I will just say this.

    “Nationalism” is used too often as a slur in this debate (not suggesting you intend it as such, Phil; nevertheless, it is the case – unionists talk of “nationalism” in the hope people will understand “ethnic nationalism”), yet if it is the very opposite of ugly, racist, closed-down, hateful ethnic nationalism that you seek, then you need look no further than the core “nationalist” movement in Scotland. I’d never pretend Scotland doesn’t have issues with racism and bigotry; every country does; but they don’t have the place in public discourse up here that they do elsewhere in the UK. One reason I support Scottish “nationalism” is its declared position that if you want to be Scottish, you are, and its overt, active welcoming of new Scots, wherever they have come from. If, like me, it is ethnic nationalism you fear and despise, then UK politics embody it far more – far more – than Scottish “nationalist” politics do. What’s more, there is no doubt that a Scottish Parliament would not vote for the attacks on rights, and standards, and protections that will happen if Westminster gets away with its power grab post-Brexit. Indeed, the freedom to agree and impose such attacks in the teeth of Scottish (and other devolved administrations’) opposition, is the whole purpose of the power grab in the first place.

    There is nothing “petty” in defending ourselves against that. Rather than labelling such attempts “nationalist”, with all the baggage that term carries, it would be far fairer to see it simply as our best chance of protecting the open, progressive values that we did NOT vote to chuck away with Brexit.

    In the meantime, all political acts take place in a context. And the context right now is the Tory government in Westminster being determined to wrest as much control back from the devolved administrations as possible in order to make it easier to negotiate trade deals after the Brexit that we in Scotland, and they in Northern Ireland, resoundingly did not vote for, on terms that we in Scotland (I can’t speak for anywhere else) would never otherwise accept.

    There is a path that can achieve both positive outcomes: progress in Northern Ireland on the question of abortion rights, and protection of devolved powers. There is now the perfect opportunity for a vigorous, emboldened campaign for abortion rights in Northern Ireland, so that the demand for it will ultimately from Northern Ireland itself rather than being imposed on it from outside. I would wholeheartedly welcome that, but there is far more than just abortion rights at stake here.

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/44275372

    Theresa May has been urged to help liberalise Northern Ireland’s abortion law by a woman whose experience brought the issue back before the courts.

    Sarah Ewart went to England in 2013 for a termination after doctors said her unborn child would not survive outside of the womb.

    The more reputable media, need to stop using this anti-abortionist propagandist terminology!

    A deformed foetus which cannot survive outside the womb is not “an Unborn Child”. It only becomes a child when it survives beyond birth!

    Such a diagnosis, known as fatal foetal abnormality, is not grounds for a legal abortion in Northern Ireland.

    Following Ireland’s historic vote, she said NI women were in “limbo”.

    While Theresa May’s duck and dodge skills, are well polished from brexit (means brexit) use, she needs to recognise that the devolved government of Northern Ireland is currently dysfunctional, and that the province is currently ruled directly from Westminster! She can’t have her cake and eat-it by pretending the responsibility is elsewhere!

    Ms Ewart has been involved in a high-profile campaign to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

    She said that in the absence of a devolved government in Northern Ireland, the prime minister and MPs should step in to help change the law.

    “If we had an assembly here, we would be literally at their doors begging, but we don’t so we are really hoping that we can have help from Westminster and Theresa May to give us the access we need here in Northern Ireland,” Ms Ewart told BBC News NI.

    “It’s a relief that women like me are going to be able to travel down to Dublin to access this procedure, but really we are wanting the help here to have it within our own hospitals in Northern Ireland”.

    A Supreme Court judgment considering whether abortion law in Northern Ireland is incompatible with international human rights is expected later this year.

  • Don’t get me wrong. I fully understand the desire for Scottish Nationalism and fully support any clearly asserted desire for change. The country has been treated badly by successive UK governments. It more nearly enshrines my Enlightenment values. It voted thumpingly for remain. But if it abandons us fellow spirits to the fricking tories, we are weakened immeasurably.

    I completely agree that it would be utterly disgraceful if brexit were foisted on Scotland, despite its clear (62%) wish, also if it were foisted on half of the island of Ireland, or for that matter, on me,. (The current wishes among the UK electorate are numerically reversed from the original brexit referendum after a little chopping and changing, but now seemingly stably against)

    But fragmentations like brexit may never repair and patient working from within may deliver more and lose less. I am dismayed at Catalunya. They are the high achieving brains of the country, treated badly, but will lose immeasurably by their abandonment by major businesses. Nor have they the the clear mandate for change.

    a Scottish Parliament would not vote for the attacks on rights, and standards, and protections that will happen if Westminster gets away with its power grab post-Brexit. Indeed, the freedom to agree and impose such attacks in the teeth of Scottish (and other devolved administrations’) opposition, is the whole purpose of the power grab in the first place.

    I think this plan (if it is the plan) is madness on stilts. With no remaining majority wish for brexit (I’ll post a link to the study), the outcome would be a certain disgusted break up of the UK, or revolution.

    Either way this would mean moving to Tiree, writing, walking and waiting to rejoin the EU.

    NI is different though. Currently they have no access to self determination. I could well be persuaded that an information only referendum called on abortion law reform could galvanise useful re-engagement of the political parties there, Sinn Fein with a new hand to play.

  • Here is data regarding attitudes to brexit.

    http://ukandeu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Public-Opinion.pdf

    Fig.1 on page 50 shows how a brexit vote would change in time.

    The explanation in the text is disingenuous. The swing against the brexit position has moved nearly ten whole percentage points, in the light of real information and contemplation an is hardening up.

    Now what might it be in NI?

    If the Republic of Ireland started to look more rational and civilised than the UK, how might these forces of discontent align?

  • I am dismayed at Catalunya. They are the high achieving brains of the
    country, treated badly, but will lose immeasurably by their
    abandonment by major businesses. Nor have they the the clear mandate
    for change.

    The Catalunya situation is a mess. Desperately badly handled on both sides. If the Spanish govt had had any sense, it would have allowed the referendum to go ahead. All the polls suggested the vote would go against independence. Both sides could have proclaimed a kind of victory. Sorted. But no. Both sides seem to have gone completely mad. Issuing European Arrest Warrants and locking up the leaders of the independence movement makes the Spanish govt look positively totalitarian. Meanwhile, Catalunya’s declaration of UDI was an act of madness, absolutely procluding it from being acknowledged internationally and therefore being able to join vital international organisations such as the UN, the EU, etc. A complete and utter mess.

    But there is very little parallel with the Scottish situation, for the simple reason that we DO have a legal path to independence (though I don’t doubt Westminster will obstruct it as much as possible). And, if we choose to go down the independence route, we shall have done so legally and will therefore have no difficulty being accepted as a new arrival on the international stage. Catalunya is in no way an example of what Scotland would become.

    patient working from within may deliver more and lose less

    I’m afraid not, Phil. It’s what we’ve been told year after year after year. As recently as 2014 we were promised drastically more powers, more influence within the UK, “lead, don’t leave”, “only way to guarantee your place in the EU”, blah blah. It never has happened in the past, and with an anti-devolutionist PM incessantly banging on about “our precious Union”, that’s not going to change now. Quite the reverse, in fact, as we see with the attempted power grab. Time after time after time after time, what happens at UK level is NOT what Scots voted for. And with Brexit, it’s time to say enough’s enough.

    I totally understand your fears about being left alone with the Tories, but honestly: I see no reason why Scotland should sacrifice itself in order to try to save England from itself. The solution to Tory governments in Westminster is not for Scotland to abandon its own interests; it’s for English voters to stop electing them. Sorry, but it really is England that’s the toxic member of this “precious Union”.

    However, this is straying a long way from Ireland and the abortion referendum … And it’s doubly irrelevant, really, because the love-in between the Tories and the DUP means that this is probably the only devolved power Theresa May isn’t itching to overrule.

  • @#27 – Theresa May has been urged to help liberalise Northern Ireland’s abortion law by a woman whose experience brought the issue back before the courts.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44357581

    MPs have won permission for an emergency debate on the abortion law in Northern Ireland.

    Members from throughout the House – including government ministers – stood to back Labour MP Stella Creasy’s call for a debate.

    She told MPs the impact of the Irish referendum had been “felt around the world” and had “thrown a spotlight on the situation in Northern Ireland”.

    Speaker John Bercow granted a three-hour debate to take place on Tuesday.

    On one hand, Theresa May’s motivation for resisting calls to intervene to change Northern Ireland’s abortion laws is obvious – for one thing she does not want to upset the Democratic Unionist Party apple cart.

    On the other, where will this apparent Conservative revolt (if that’s what it is) end – and how big must it grow before she cannot resist it any longer?

    And then there is the DUP itself. It possesses the nuclear button of threatening to bring down the government.

  • Thanks, Alan.

    Pressure I think from 2 (moral!) directions. This could be good.

    I wouldn’t argue with bringing down the government before 2022.

  • I see that the political ducking and dodging continues over the repeal of Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws – with rulers from Westminster pretending the matter should be dealt with by the non-functioning Stormont assembly, and lawyers inventing spurious technical issues on why matters should not be resolved – even while judges are recognising the need for serious issues to be addressed!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-44395150

    Supreme Court rejects NI abortion law case

    The court dismissed an appeal brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC).

    But a majority of judges said the existing law was incompatible with human rights law in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and sexual crime.

    The commission lost on the issue of whether they had the required standing to bring the case.

    The challenge to the law was brought by the NIHRC but, on Thursday, judges said it would have required the case to have been brought by a woman who was pregnant as a result of sexual crime or who was carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality.

    As a result, the judges did not make a formal declaration of incompatibility, which would normally lead to a change in the law.

    The notion that “a woman who was pregnant as a result of sexual crime or who was currently carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality”, would have time and energy to plod through lengthy legal processes, seems ironically farcical to me!

  • Meanwhile, as Westminster ducks and dodges the Northern Ireland abortion issue, another referendum is expected in the Irish Republic:-

    https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/republic-of-ireland/approval-given-for-referendum-on-removal-of-blasphemy-offence-37003154.html

    Approval given for referendum on removal of blasphemy offence

    Charlie Flanagan was given approval by the Cabinet to hold the referendum in October.

    It could be held on the same day as an election for the office of president, and alongside another referendum to remove the part of the Constitution that refers to the woman’s place in the home.

    Known as the “woman in the home” clause, it has been criticised for its sexist language by Irish politicians and activists.

    “Regrettably, there are some countries in the world where blasphemy is an offence, the punishment of which is being put to death.

    “Such situations are abhorrent to our beliefs and values. By removing this provision from our Constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist.”

  • In relation to the new referendum, some of us may remember this news item!

    https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/may/07/stephen-fry-investigated-by-irish-police-for-alleged-blasphemy

    Stephen Fry investigated by Irish police for alleged blasphemy

    Interviewed on TV show screened in Ireland, Fry asked ‘Why should I respect a mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world so full of injustice and pain?’

    Under Ireland’s Defamation Act 2009 a person who publishes or utters blasphemous material “shall be guilty of an offence”. A conviction can lead to a fine of up to €25,000.

  • I see other countries which have been dominated by Catholicism, are now also seeking reforms!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-44469557

    Lawmakers in Argentina are due to vote on a draft bill that would allow women to have abortions in the first 14 weeks of their pregnancies.

    The bill has proven highly divisive and deputies have been split almost evenly in the run-up to the lower house vote, with more than a dozen still undecided.

    If approved, the bill will still have to go to the Senate.

    Abortion is currently illegal except in cases of rape or when the life or health of the woman is at risk.

    The momentum in favour of a change in the law has grown over the past months and was further boosted by the overwhelming vote for overturning the abortion ban in Ireland.

  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-44486190

    Catholic Argentina’s lower house has backed a bill legalising abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

    After a divisive debate lasting more than 22 hours, 129 members of the Chamber of Deputies voted in favour and 125 against while one abstained.

    President Mauricio Macri is strongly opposed to the bill but has said that he would not veto it if it was passed by both houses.

    This was quite close – showing the deep-rooted obstruction to medical choices from dogmatic Catholicism!

  • While the politicians at Stormont remain deadlocked and dysfunctional, Westminster exercising direct rule, needs to get a grip on its responsibilities to the women of Northern Ireland!

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44914252

    More than 170 politicians from the UK and Ireland have signed a letter urging the UK government to reform Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.

    It is the only part of the UK where abortion is illegal unless there is a serious risk to a woman’s health.

    The letter, published in the Sunday Times, says ministers cannot continue to argue that it is a devolved matter.

    It comes as figures suggest 28 women a week on average go to England from Northern Ireland for an abortion.

    The unpublished data, obtained by Labour MP Stella Creasy from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service – a charity which provides abortions, suggests that 342 women made the journey between March and May this year.

    Ms Creasy told the BBC’s Sunday Politics that she did not want the women of Northern Ireland to be the “collateral damage” of Theresa May needing the DUP to prop up her government.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.