Monday 23 September 2019

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

WATCH: 'A weight is now lifted,' says emotional Daly as she reflects on long battle to repeal Eighth

Deputy Clare Daly introduced bills concerning access to abortion for women who had received diagnoses of fatal foetal abnormalities. Picture: Collins
Deputy Clare Daly introduced bills concerning access to abortion for women who had received diagnoses of fatal foetal abnormalities. Picture: Collins

Shona Murray

Clare Daly has been among TDs at the forefront of changing Ireland's abortion laws since her election to the Dáil in 2011.

Yesterday, in her first address since Saturday's monumental referendum result, she choked with emotion when she described it as "an enormous weight being lifted".

For her passion both yesterday and for the last several years - when her campaigning for change has been relentless - she received a round of applause from her fellow TDs.

It erupted when Ms Daly said the results of the poll meant a "ball and chain that dogged us all our adult life being finally gone".

Ms Daly has a history of demanding and compelling the Dáil to be more compassionate, to afford people more dignity. She said she was "shocked" that nobody else in the Dáil had ever raised the issue of the plight of refugees, including Ireland's own lacklustre support for bringing refugees to Irish shores.

Back in 2012, alongside Wexford TD Mick Wallace and Dublin South Central TD Joan Collins, Ms Daly first introduced legislation to soften access to terminations, to make it legal for a woman to access an abortion when her life is in "real and substantial" danger.

She introduced several bills along the way, aimed also at dealing with access to termination for women who had received diagnoses of fatal foetal abnormalities, but were being forced to travel to the UK.

The record shows that each successive bill received very little support among TDs. Government members were ordered to vote against her bills, being told the Attorney General's advice was that none was compatible with the Eighth Amendment. "When Deputies Mick Wallace, Joan Collins and I introduced our legislation in 2012, only 20 deputies voted with us," she said in the Dáil yesterday.

At that time, it took four women to go public on 'The Late Late Show', making it the first time people in Ireland openly identified themselves as having travelled for terminations, she said. They later founded Terminations for Medical Reasons (TFMR), a group that featured prominently throughout the campaign to repeal the Eighth.

"Is it not appalling that they and their colleagues had to lay bare their most appalling pain and tragedy in order to turn that into a social movement which changed history? They should not have had to do that," she said. Not for the first time did Ms Daly allow her emotions to surface while speaking in the Dáil.

Yesterday she aimed to put a halt to the rewriting of history as it may have evolved over the last few days. She reminded us that it was not politicians who took the lead.

"This has been a pitch battle pushing a boulder up a hill for decades and nobody in here was involved in pushing it," she said.

When women and families who had suffered from being forced out of Ireland were left in the lurch by the political system during those votes they walked out of Dáil Éireann with their "hearts broken", said Ms Daly.

"When we assembled here and Deputy Wallace moved the legislation on fatal foetal abnormalities, those women were in the gallery. Afterwards, their hearts were broken that the House had voted against them again. There were people who travelled that day and there is probably someone who is travelling today also.

"We should not have compounded their pain but the fact that they stepped forward was huge."

While she acknowledged the role of the Taoiseach in introducing a referendum, she said: "We should remember the time before the glory days when it was the Well Woman Centre, the Irish Family Planning Association and the Abortion Support Network in the UK which took in our women and girls and paid for their fares."

She added: "If I had to name one person more than anyone else, it was Ailbhe Smyth, a 'giant' of the movement, who stood there when there was no glory to be had."

Irish Independent

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