Tuesday, 17th July 2018
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A public debate on the Eighth Amendment will be held in Woodlands Hotel on May 2nd, beginning at 7.30pm. Two well-known speakers will present at the debate, one to argue for retention of the Eighth Amendment, the other to advocate repeal of the Amendment. Caroline Simons will defend the retention of the Eighth and Professor Fiona de Londras will argue the case for repeal.

This is the only public debate on the upcoming referendum organised in this area. The outcome of this referendum will have serious implications for our society and voters should be as well-informed as they can be before they cast their vote. The issues facing voters are complex and challenging and it is hoped that a public debate will afford people an opportunity to openly the discuss the issues and to seek clarification on outstanding questions which may be causing some confusion. Some have already decided how they will vote but many are still undecided and this style of debate should help people.

Groups advocating ‘No’ and those advocating a ‘Yes’ vote have organised rallies and talks but there has been little or no opportunity for open and honest dialogue. The National media has closed off dialogue by their policy to interview representatives of each side separately. It is inevitable that, when faced with such a momentous decision, people become passionate about their position and rational debate becomes impossible. Surely we need to respectfully listen to one another, hear the arguments of both sides and carefully assess them in order to make a well-informed decision before voting?

The speakers invited to participate in this public debate are experts in this complex area of abortion law. Caroline Simons is a solicitor and is legal advisor to the Pro-Life campaign. She has been interviewed on the Pro-Life position, which advocates retention of the eighth amendment on numerous occasions by all the top journalists, having participated in the major television and radio programmes such as Prime-Time, Claire Byrne Live, The Tonight Show, Today with Sean O’Rourke, the Late Debate, Drivetime etc., and has spoken at many rallies throughout the country. Fiona de Londras is Professor of Global Legal Studies at the University of Birmingham. She was invited to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment as an expert in Constitutional Law to give evidence on legal certainty (or uncertainty) in relation to the eighth amendment. She has published a book this year with Máiréad Enright Repealing the 8th: Reforming Irish Abortion Law, in which she outlines the arguments for repeal. She founded and still writes at the collaborative academic blog Human Rights in Ireland and regularly comments in the newspapers and on radio and television on rights-related matters. Having been born, raised, and educated in Ireland, she likes to remain closely involved with her home country and regularly writes, teaches, speaks and examines in Ireland.

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