John Crown: A thoroughly Irish coup
Vatican sympathisers should swear an oath of loyalty to the Republic or get out of the Oireachtas, writes John Crown
Not for the first time, an attempt is being made to overthrow and discard our constitutional system of republican government. A cabal of insurrectionists, sympathetic to the agents of a foreign state are, as you read this, plotting and executing a coup d'etat. This is not your standard tanks-on-the-Leinster House lawn-type of coup, but a coup it is nonetheless. It is, in fact, a thoroughly Irish coup.
Who are these latter-day Gunpowder Plotters? Is it the recently demilitarised Provos of Sinn Fein? No, this time the threat comes from the very heart of our system of government. Surprisingly, most of the ringleaders are members of Fine Gael, the party that declared our real republic in 1948 and which in the popular perception would be seen as the most constitutional and least revolutionary of our political entities. Others come from Fianna Fail, once famously referred to as a "slightly constitutional party."
What this new composite "Tae Party" fringe is proposing is that the Government, in legislating for abortion in the strictly limited case where there is a threat to the life (as distinct to the health) of the mother, should completely ignore both the Supreme Court and the wishes of the ultimate sovereign in a democratic republic – the voice of the people, who not once but twice voted NO! in popular referenda to exclude suicide as a valid threat to life.
The conspiracy goes to the very top of our political structure, with TDs, senators and at least one minister indicating that they might thumb their noses at our Bunreacht and vote against constitutionally mandated legislation. Incredibly, they are being egged on by a former Taoiseach.
The foreign power is, of course, the Vatican, a sovereign state that orchestrated numerous plots to obstruct constitutionally mandated justice for child victims of abuse in multiple countries around the world. The agents of this oligarchic dictatorship are interfering in our democracy as surely as, but thankfully much less effectively than did the Italians and Germans in aiding the overthrow of the Spanish Republic in the 1930s. Thinking people will be particularly offended by the interference of Cardinal Brady, who once swore two small children to secrecy under oath about their testimony to a liturgical inquiry into the abuse they had suffered.
Similarly, the shunning of our Taoiseach, himself a devout Catholic, by the hierarchy of the same Boston diocese that had such a shameful role in the cover-up of clerical abuse is an insult to him, to our country and to our democracy. The new Contras argue that the Supreme Court judgement in the X Case, which ruled that maternal suicidality fell within the Constitution's definition of a threat to life, was "flawed".
Their opinion is interesting, but irrelevant. Article 34.4.6 of the Constitution states that "the decision of the Supreme Court shall in all cases be final and definitive".
Nothing better illustrates the contempt of these elitist plotters for the wishes of ordinary people than their continual ignoring of the two referenda in which majorities of our population rejected government calls to exclude the threat of suicide. Incredibly (actually eye-rubbingly), former Taoiseach John Bruton and William Binchy, a constitutional lawyer, managed to write recent articles in the Irish Times dissecting the constitutional position without once in either submission even referring to the existence of these referenda.
The practice of medicine is not based on democracy, but on data. The practice of democratic government, on the other hand, is based on democracy – public representatives making the best attempt they can to implement the wishes of the people who elected them.
Whether all psychiatrists, or some psychiatrists or no psychiatrists at all believe that the appropriate management for a suicidal pregnant woman will sometimes, always or never include an abortion as part of her medical management, is not the crucial issue facing our legislators in 2013. That is a decision for doctors, and if the evidence suggests that abortion is never necessary to prevent maternal suicide, then it will be nigh-on impossible to get the legally mandated trio of doctors who will unanimously recommend it. That should parenthetically provide reassurance for those parliamentarians who fear floodgates, tides or tsunamis of abortion.
I recently proposed in the Seanad that our elected parliamentarians should be asked to swear an oath of allegiance to our republic and to its constitution. This was partly motivated by my irritation that certain TDs and senators who were elected and are paid by, and who represent the citizens of our republic, refuse to acknowledge the very existence of the Republic, preferring to reserve that sacred designation for an imaginary political entity that is about as likely to come into reality as Narnia, Oz or Klingon.
The same contempt is now being shown by the new anti-constitutional Keystone Phalangists. Parliamentarians around the world swear oaths to defend their constitutions. Our own Uachtaran and judges already swear such an oath, as do our gardai and soldiers, many of whom have died bravely defending it.
The question has to be asked: "Why shouldn't our teachtai and senators swear loyalty to our republic and to its constitution?" Those who won't swear it on the basis of selective conscientious objection should not be allowed to serve in our Oireachtas, any more than a Justice of the Supreme Court or a general in the real Oglaigh na hEireann who refused to be sworn in would be allowed to serve.
It is time to call their bluff, and to tell them that their primary loyalty as parliamentarians is to uphold the Constitution.
Senator John Crown is a consultant oncologist