Monday 23 September 2019

SIPTU back referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Mark Condren
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Mark Condren

Ralph Riegel

Ireland's largest trade union has overwhelming backed a motion to support a call for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment.

It is expected that the referendum will be staged in mid 2018.

Experts have predicted that it is likely to prove one of the most contentious of referendum campaigns waged over recent years.

The union, which staged its biennial conference in Cork, voted overwhelmingly to endorse a motion to "support the call for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment."

The motion was tabled by SIPTU National Executive Committee (NEC) member, Suzanna Griffin.

It was put to the conference on behalf of the union's equality committee.

“Women comprise more than half of the trade union membership in Ireland and it is unacceptable that they live in a country where the law puts their health and lives at risk, criminalises them and forces them to travel abroad to avail of safe and legal abortion services," she warned.

“Some women have to undergo torturous situations, for example when a woman is pregnant with a foetus with a fatal foetal abnormality, or pregnant as the result of rape."

"So what happens? Women travel aboard for terminations. The hypocrisy of this situation is shameful.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said a date for the referendum will only be decided when the Oireachtas has fully considered the matter.

However, it is expected to be staged sometime before next June.

Ms Griffin stressed that the union was not attempting to force members into a moral dilemma.

“But this motion is not asking any delegate here to make a moral or personal decision on the provision of abortion in Ireland," she said.

"It is merely asking you to support the call for a referendum so that the people of Ireland can make a democratic decision as they did in 1983."

“The women of Ireland deserve our support on this and people in Ireland deserve an opportunity to vote on the 8th Amendment given that no person of child bearing age has had the opportunity to make this decision themselves.”

SIPTU boasts almost 175,000 members.

The union has been staging a four-day Cork conference which has been dominated by issues such as pay, housing, childcare provisions and the 8th Amendment referendum.

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