Attendees at the recent constitutional convention
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has declared that he will give Fine Gael TDs a free vote on repeal of the Eighth Amendment following a constitutional convention on the matter to be held after the general election. This begs a simple question: why?
Whether Fine Gael likes it or not, repeal of the Eighth Amendment is a live issue in this election; people of all opinions are raising it on the doorsteps, campaigns from both sides of the debate are in full swing, and the Greens and Labour have had the courage to put an actual policy in place.
One does not need a rarefied process of discussion with a small number of “the people” and elected representatives to know there is sufficient disagreement and momentum to justify a referendum on repeal; one simply needs to respond to the demands of the polity.
The last time Fine Gael established a convention to consider constitutional change it held referenda on two of the emerging proposals (marriage equality and presidential age), accepted three more, parked eight, rejected five, gave unclear responses to two, and ignored 20.
Given this track record, can the Taoiseach’s commitment to “considering” repeal of the Eighth Amendment be called a “policy”, not to mention an example of leadership?
Prof Fiona de Londras,
University of Birmingham
School of Law
Pic: Political Reform