LETTER: All freedom in this world conditional

December 23rd, 2017 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – How strange it is that the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment publishes its recommendations at this time of year!

 As we celebrate or prepare to acknowledge the infectious love and thrill at the birth of a child.

On the radio this morning, I heard Camille O’Sullivan sing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Halleluia.’ This is so very different to the Alleluias we believers – Jews and Christians – sing. 

Love is surely the message of joy and thrill of deep happiness that is celebrated by the Christian festival of Christmas – the one truly global constant inclusive festival – that celebrates loving and love of the world.  We all know it and, believer or not, we join in enthusiastically.

Take a closer look at what we find so deeply moving and simply delightful inwardly and outwardly: At Christmas, we allow finding forgiveness accessible even for ourselves. 

We include saying laughing comments to strangers – other shoppers in the hassle; queuers in the pressure. It’s all so possible despite the stress and the crowds. 

We notice giving way to the elderly and small children, hassled parents and the waiting hungry homeless on the street.

Our alleluia is not broken at Christmas, but rather it is full and meaningful to our usually inaccessible core. Christmas is a celebration of our ability to care for so much more than we would normally admit.

Why are we afraid to admit we are able to love more? Why break the Alleluia as Leonard Cohen observes?

The Eighth Amendment is very simple: ‘The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.’

All freedom is conditional in this world.  The condition limiting personal freedom is the right to freedom of our neighbour – be they our relation, countryman-woman or immigrant.  My freedom must never restrict (more than my own), or remove the freedom of another.If you – if we as a country, vote to keep the Eighth Amendment, we really need to do something loving – with the energy (if not the enthusiasm) of our Christmas Alleluia – about the stress and loneliness of the single reluctantly pregnant and violated women and girls of our society. Not perpetuate the fear, horror, even violence they have experienced.  

Yours etc.,

Frances MacMahon,

Lower Lisheen,

Church Cross,


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