Tuesday 21 November 2017

With a referendum looming, we must learn to tolerate open debate

The Irish media should be championing the right to freedom of expression in a democracy, writes Feargal Quinn

Dáil Éireann. Stock picture
Dáil Éireann. Stock picture

Feargal Quinn

The celebrated playwright Brian Friel had a unique ability to portray a sense of Ireland and Irishness. He portrayed Ireland in a way that no others before or since have and seemed to presciently define its people as a nation forever restlessly seeking to redefine its identity.

Contemporary Ireland is a nation that seems determined to find issues which tear us apart at regular intervals. What lies beneath our obsession with major social issues?

Think back to the various referendums on abortion - on the Eighth Amendment in 1983, the Fourteenth Amendment in 1992, the failed Twenty Fifth Amendment in 2002 - each of which has been both vicious and divisive. Not to mention the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 which ended some political careers.

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