Vote shows Ireland doesn’t want to repeal pro-life constitution: pro-life leader
DUBLIN, Ireland, March 1, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Irish voters made their pro-life views clear when they “eviscerated” the pro-abortion Irish Labour Party in the February 26 general election, says Niamh Ui Bhriain of Ireland’s national pro-life lobby group, The Life Institute.
The collapse of Labour — which fell from 33 to six seats — also means the collapse of the Labour and Fine Gael coalition that has governed Ireland for the last five years.
Fine Gael felt the pro-life backlash as well, with the party falling from 73 to 49 seats, fatally weakening its ability to form government.
The party vowed in 2011 not to bring in abortion legislation, but passed the ‘Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill’ law in 2013, which permits abortion when the life of the mother is in danger, including when the mother threatens suicide.
“Fine Gael broke their promise, so there was a huge amount of anger out there amongst people,” Ui Bhriain told LifeSiteNews. “Their vote was very badly hit in this election as well.”
The Life Institute Director acknowledged that other factors, such as hardship suffered by austerity measures, also influenced voters, but she said that the pro-life vote was organised and made a difference in returning pro-life candidates in many constituencies.
As for Labour, it made a referendum to repeal the Irish constitution’s 1983 eighth amendment — which guarantees legal protection for the child in the womb — its major plank during the election campaign, she said.
“They made a very specific and very clear call to the electorate, and very much backed by the media, that if you didn’t vote Labour you wouldn’t get a chance to repeal the eighth amendment,” explained Ui Bhriain.
“The electorate gave its answer to that call, and it eviscerated the Labour Party.”
According to Ui Bhriain, a mother of four daughters who has been with The Life Institute for about twelve years, “certainly we can say that Labour lost some votes because their call for abortion was very extreme.” The party “wanted abortion on demand legalized, which is based on the British model of abortion.”
“We can also say with absolute certainty there is no public support amongst the people for the repeal of the eighth amendment,” she told LifeSiteNews, and this despite “a very sustained, concerted, relentless media push” for such a referendum.
The result was “devastating to abortion campaigners here” who have “been gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair on Twitter since last Saturday, when it became very clear that this was a wipe-out for Labour.”
“I think a lot of abortion campaigners, they’re so hand-in-glove with the media that they create this bubble for themselves,” observed Ui Bhriain. “They actually believe that most people, like them, support abortion, all the way through to birth, for any reason whatsoever, and that most people see it as a major cause of concern and want all of the pro-life laws to be overturned.”
“And what the election showed is that they are grossly, grossly out of step with what most Irish people believe, so that’s very significant.”
But that appears to be the only definitive result of the Irish vote, which is based on a system of proportional representation.
With centrist parties Fine Gael winning 49 seats and Fianna Fáil 44 at last count, it remains unclear just what party will form government in Ireland’s 158-seat parliament, or Dàil.
In third place is Sinn Féin with 23 seats, with Labour trailing the field with six. A number of smaller parties and independent candidates captured the remaining 34 seats, but the results for two seats have not yet been declared, with re-counts underway.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny will remain taoiseach, or prime minister, at least until the Dàil reconvenes March 10, according to the BBC, which also reported that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called for reform of the Dàil to take precedence over any coalition building.
And none of three major parties want to work with the others, according to a report in the International Business Times.
“I don’t know what is going to happen right now in relation to forming a government, nobody does,” Ui Bhriain said. “It’s going to be a very unstable government, so there might be another election.”
But the “wonderful thing” about the vote “is that there has been clear evidence here that the pro-life vote had a very strong effect,” and that “the most pro-abortion parties were resoundingly rejected by the electorate.”
The tightly fought race in Dublin North Bay is an illustration of this. Under the system of proportional representation, the votes for pro-life candidate Terence Flanagan — who was among a handful of parliamentarians expelled from Fine Gael for voting against the 2013 abortion bill — went to pro-life Fianna Fáil candidate Seán Haughey, even though the two men “come from two very different political perspectives,” Ui Bhriain said.
“This pattern was seen in constituencies around the country as people voted pro-life.”
Nevertheless, the fight is certainly not over, she contended.
While second-place party Fianna Fail “is largely pro-life,” and many of the party’s candidates signed the Life Institute pledge to protect the eighth amendment, there are some “very radical pro-abortion” politicians in its ranks, Ui Bhriain pointed out.
And there is also the matter of the Irish media, she added, which is “incredibly biased” in favour of abortion, indeed, probably “one of the worst in the world.”
To counter that and bypass the media, The Life Institute is “currently rolling out a massive, nation-wide canvas of the entire country,” she said. It’s “something that I think has never been done in any country on a single issue.”
Life Institute canvassers who are specially trained to answer questions and concerns on abortion are going door-to-door across Ireland. They began the project in October, but the nation-wide roll out is set for after Easter, Ui Bhriain said.
“In Ireland most people are against abortion, but they have genuine questions around the hard cases” such as abortion in the case of rape, she noted.
“I think it’s going to be very powerful and tell us a lot about what people think about abortion” and “give us deep insights,” she told LifeSiteNews. “What I love about these engagements is that they’re such a huge learning experience for the whole movement.”