We won't be silenced on the Eighth, insists student with Down syndrome
"Hello, my name is Conor O'Dowd. I am 23. I love my life."
A young man with Down syndrome has lent his voice to the Save the Eighth campaign.
Conor O'Dowd, from Drogheda, Co Louth, and his father Michael yesterday appealed to voters not to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
"I took today off college to be here. This is a very important day. I am against abortion," Conor told a press conference in Dublin yesterday. Michael took issue with a statement released by Down Syndrome Ireland last week saying the use of the image of a girl with Down syndrome on pro-life campaign pamphlets was "disrespectful to both children and adults with Down syndrome ". The group said people with Down syndrome "should not be used as an argument for either side of this debate".
"I'm a member of Down Syndrome Ireland. I've sat on the board in the past. There are very different views in Down Syndrome Ireland ... but I won't be silenced," said Michael.
He said the organisation's CEO, Gary Owens, was "relatively new" and was doing a "good job", but added, "I think he's made a mistake".
"We would not have felt obliged to speak out were it not for the relentless campaign from some quarters telling us to remain silent. This past week, it has felt like our existence is inconvenient for some supporters of the abortion referendum, and that they would rather we went away and were quiet.
"We will not. It is a cold, hard, undeniable fact that when abortion is introduced, a disproportionate impact is suffered by those children diagnosed with some form of disability."
Down Syndrome Ireland declined to comment further when contacted by the Irish Independent yesterday.
Anne Trainer, whose son Kevin (10) has Down syndrome, said: "I have been appalled that media commentators and abortion campaigners sought to dictate terms to families of children with disabilities in regard to what we could and could not say, and whether photographs of our children should be seen."
Meanwhile, spokeswoman for Save the Eighth, Niamh Uí Bhriain, criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for "dressing cruelty up as compassion" by ignoring the humanity and rights of the unborn child.