Monday, 19th February 2018
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Repealing the 8th

In a surprise move last Friday, the leader of Fianna Fáil Micháel Martin reversed his position on the repealing of the 8th Amendment and said that he will be voting in favour of repealing the amendment after long and serious contemplation. This will put Mr. Martin in direct opposition to the majority of his party colleagues who have come out and publicly said that they are in favour of retaining the 8th Amendment which will keep the ban on abortion in Ireland legal. As yet there is still no exact working for the referendum which will happen later on this year for what is expected to be one of the most bitterly fought referenda of recent years.

The special all-party Oireceachtais committee to look into the repealing of the 8th Amendment came out with a majority decision in favour and it is thought that the debates within the committee were part of the reason why the Fianna Fáil leader came out with his own decision to vote in favour of repealing the amendment. This leaves the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, as the only party leader not to come out and give his own decision about what he has decided to do in relation to which way he will vote, although he has said that he will will make public his decision as soon as the wording of the referendum has been finally clarified.

While the debate from both sides in relation to repealing the 8th Amendment has been relatively quiet so far, the whole issue of the amendment is set to become extremely emotive as it has been on previous occasions when the issue went to the country. There is even talk that the referendum will take place when the Pope is due to visit the country later on this year, which will see the papacy take an inevitable step into the world of Irish politics if this happens. Naturally enough this will be welcomed by the pro-life side and decried by the pro-choice side of the argument.

However at the moment things haven't come to a boil as yet, even though the Dáil is debating the issue in the house with all sides making their own emotive arguments as to what should be the eventual outcome. What is interesting is that Micheál Martin has come out so early in the debate and said which way that he is going to vote. This could be one way of stealing a march on the Taoiseach who could be said to be not showing much in the way of leadership on such an important topic.

Whatever will happen in the months leading up to the referendum expect them to be full of emotion and impassioned argument from both sides in the debate.


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