Monday 18 June 2018

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

'My support for abortion is not at odds with my faith' - Madigan

Josepha Madigan. Photo: Tom Burke
Josepha Madigan. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Arts Minister Josepha Madigan insists her religious faith does not conflict with her support for liberalising the country's abortion laws.

Ms Madigan said her faith is "extremely important" and she understands the difficulty people face when considering a vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

But the Fine Gael minister said the decision to end a pregnancy as "a last port of call" and the current situation that sees nine women a day travelling abroad for an abortion is "not acceptable" and "barbaric".

Ms Madigan said in her view the "humane and compassionate thing to do is not to stand in judgment of somebody else and their decision".

Ms Madigan has just been appointed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to co-ordinate the efforts of Fine Gael members who are campaigning for a 'Yes' vote.

She is a regular Mass-goer and delivers readings in her local parish in south Dublin.

The Culture Minister's views are in direct contradiction to those of the Catholic Church, which is stridently anti-abortion. She said the clergy were "entitled to their view" but believes you can still have a "very strong faith" but also support allowing women the choice to have an abortion.

"I mentioned my faith because I think there are a lot of people in Ireland... who are members of the Catholic Church and feel that the two aren't reconcilable."

She said: "I do believe that they are."

The anti-abortion Save the 8th campaign has said Ms Madigan will have a "challenging job" selling what they claimed will be "UK-style abortion on demand". Ms Madigan rejected this characterisation of the legislation the Government is proposing to bring in if the referendum is passed.

She pointed to the 72-hour 'consideration period' after the woman visits her GP and said abortions would only be available after 12 weeks in limited circumstances. This would include cases of fatal foetal abnormality or where the life or health of a mother is at risk.

Opponents of repeal have criticised Tánaiste Simon Coveney for changing his stance from retaining to allowing abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.

Ms Madigan brushed aside suggestions he added confusion to the debate and said it "demonstrates the difficulty people have found themselves in, struggling with this issue".


Ms Madigan admits that Fine Gael is divided on abortion but says "that's OK".

"There is a free vote on this and nobody will have to campaign that doesn't want to campaign," she added.

It does mean that the financial resources the party will devote to the issue will be limited. Any cash used in the fight for a 'Yes' vote is to come from new fundraising, not members' fees or the proceeds of its superdraw.

Ms Madigan says those campaigning for a 'Yes' vote don't have a target for how much they want to raise through events in the coming weeks. The party had €121,000 in referendum expenses in 2015, the year of the marriage equality vote.

Ms Madigan said: "If we get that much we'll be doing very well. It's like any fundraising. We just have to hope that people will donate to it and will believe in the issue as strongly as I do."

Irish Independent

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