Tuesday 23 October 2018

Day we discovered Ireland's past really is a foreign country

The voters' sober and thoughtful position on repeal won the day against slick campaigning and Trumpian tactics

SUPPORT: Micheal Martin came out early to back repeal
SUPPORT: Micheal Martin came out early to back repeal

Eoin O'Malley

Last October a small group of TDs and senators from different parties came together to provide an umbrella for Oireachtas members who were in favour of repeal. The group hoped to support a mainstream campaign to deliver a referendum and a Yes vote. At the time there was concern that the referendum might not even get through the Oireachtas. If it did, they worried that those who had been at the vanguard of repeal for decades might construct a campaign that would be so focused on women's right to choose that the centre ground would be driven into the arms of the anti-repeal side.

In the end, the Oireachtas passed the referendum bill easily, and in the new year several mainstream politicians, such as Micheal Martin, and eventually Simon Coveney, came out to support repeal, and perhaps crucially, the proposed legislation to replace it. But there were still concerns.

We all assumed that in the heat of a campaign the innate conservatism of the Irish people fuelled by a slick campaign against repeal would mean the best Yes could hope for was to scrape over the line. A Brexit or Trump-style event might be possible.

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