Sunday 25 February 2018

Mairtin Mac Cormaic: My interview with Fine Gaeler may have sparked original amendment

TED RUSSELL
TED RUSSELL

Mairtin Mac Cormaic

I think I may have been partly responsible for the Pro-Life Amendment to the Constitution in 1983 which led to all the confusion about the law on abortion in the intervening years. That was because of an interview I did in 1981 with a 20-year-old medical student from Listowel in Kerry who had just been elected Vice-President of Fine Gael.

Her election came as a major shock to the party hierarchy. Up to then, the Vice-Presidency of Fine Gael had been an honour bestowed only on elderly men who had devoted their lives to the party.

At the party's Ard Fheis in Dublin that year the contestants for Vice-President were the veteran Limerick businessman George Edward Russell, a former TD and Senator, and the young unknown Maria Stack, a medical student in University College Galway. Russell was expected to be a shoo-in; his election was a foregone conclusion so he did little canvassing. Maria Stack, on the other hand, had the support of her colleagues in Young Fine Gael who had their homework done and managed to secure the votes of the majority of delegates at the Ard Fheis. The party grandees were horrified that these upstarts in Young Fine Gael were able to beat them at their own game. However, they had no choice but accept their defeat.

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