SIR – I am writing today regarding the Tánaiste Simon Coveney’s recent remarks on the proposed legislation that will come into effect in the event of a successfully repeal of the 8th Amendment.
The Citizens’ Assembly and the Joint Oireachtas Committee were rare victories for both participatory democracy and evidence-based policy in this country. They acknowledged reality and proposed thoughtful answers to difficult questions. The Tánaiste’s remarks ignore those questions, and serve only to pose more.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee did the Irish people a great service in finally, and comprehensively, addressing a serious issue that has been largely ignored by successive governments for over 30 years. The work of the committee has highlighted the hidden suffering inflicted on countless Irish women under the 8th Amendment, as well as clarifying the extent to which the legal, medical, and human rights issues arising from its implementation have been detrimental to the State.
It is the height of hubris for the Tánaiste to so flippantly disregard a report that summarises the recommendations of a committee informed by over 30 experts, based purely on his vaguely-defined beliefs.
It is an insult to each and every member of the Citizens’ Assembly who so admirably served the Irish people. It is an insult to the qualifications of the witnesses called by the JOC. It is an insult to Mr Coveney’s colleagues, whose work on the Joint Oireachtas Committee was so carefully considered, measured and reflective of the realities of contemporary Ireland.
The Joint Oireachtas Committees recommendations did not address the issues of some fairytale Ireland where abortion does not occur; they addressed the stark reality. Continuing to believe the fairytale may help Mr Coveney to sleep at night, but the Irish people, and in particular the constituents of Cork South Central, deserve better than to be represented by a man who can delude himself into sleeping through a crisis.
We need leaders with the humility to accept where their expertise falls short.
In a progressive and functioning democracy, the collective knowledge of qualified experts, and an informed electorate, should not take second place to the whims and feckless reckon of those empowered to represent us. Mr Coveney’s remarks are not only offensive to the countless women whose suffering he obtusely overlooks; they are offensive to the ideals of a truly democratic republic.
I suggest that the good people of Cork South Central respect Mr.Coveney’s desire for a good night’s sleep by removing the burden of leadership from his weary shoulders, and offering it to a candidate who acknowledges the responsibilities inherent in accepting that great privilege.
Is mise le meas,
St Luke’s Cross,