Calls for date on 8th amendment referendum in 2018
The call by members of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment for a referendum to be held in May will be welcomed by all those who seek to have the 8th Amendment repealed, said Cllr Declan Bree this week.
"When the 8th Amendment was inserted into the Constitution back in 1983 we lived in a different Ireland. An Ireland controlled by right wing and conservative politicians - an Ireland where the hierarchy, the church and secret societies like the Knights of Columbanus were able to dictate to and pressurize governments - an Ireland where even married couples were compelled to seek a doctors prescription to purchase a condom in a pharmacy.
"During the referendum campaign in 1983 I was the Campaign Director for the Anti-Amendment campaign in Sligo-Leitrim. We had a small but courageous number of activists in our campaign group. We opposed the 8th Amendment and argued that it was legally unnecessary, anti-woman, sectarian and divisive. The experience of the last thirty four years has proven us correct.
"It was an acrimonious and bitter campaign and unfortunately the majority of citizens voted for the 8th Amendment
"However, today it is recognised that the neglect and abuse meted out to vulnerable women and children by church and state leave those institutions with no moral authority to decide upon, restrict or impose boundaries on women
"In the 34 years since the 8th Amendment was inserted into the Constitution somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 women per year are known to have provided Irish addresses in UK clinics when seeking to access abortion services - this being a conservative estimate. In this context it is clear that the 8th Amendment has simply served to force women to travel abroad to access basic health care.
"It was recently pointed out that nobody under the age of fifty two has had an opportunity to vote on what is described as the 8th Amendment. This means that the vast majority of the cohort of women of child bearing age have had no say on a matter which directly impinges on their lives.
"We now live in more enlightened times. It's clear that the 8th amendment needs to be removed from our Constitution. We now need an early date for the Referendum to allow the people to repeal the 8th Amendment," said Cllr Bree.