Conventionally Speaking


Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 09.41.43

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

Rhetoric and the Eighth Amendment (Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Political Reform

19 thoughts on “Conventionally Speaking

  1. DubLoony

    A convention is his way of avoiding making a decision directly about holding a referendum. Its a fig leaf for TDs to hide behind so that they can say to would be voters “the convention made me do it, if it were just up to me…”

    Just hold the referendum and avoid all the faffing about.

  2. Steve

    Yeah I’m an FG voter and completely agree with the sentiment above. We need to have a referendum in the first year of the next government .

    1. joj

      FG are scared of their poo to even mention it as they literally have no idea how it will sway their election chances, so theyr’e leaving it undisturbed for now so to speak, not the only party either

      @ollie rolleyes:

      1. Steve

        Thanks ollie!!

        Me and 30% (and rising) of the voting electorate apparently

        5 more years baby!!! Sing it to me :)

  3. donal

    Long finger, long finger, long finger, long finger
    Governments in this country always afraid to make a decision, everything goes on the long finger
    There must be a well thumbed special long finger manual buried under the cabinet table

  4. rotide

    I’m not sure what the problem is here? I’m also not sure of the specifics since there’s no actual facts just a letter.

    Inda called a convention to discuss a referendum that everyone wants and this is a bad thing?

    Glass half empty lads?

    1. DubLoony

      You don’t actually need a convention to initiate a referendum. Its not a constitutional body, however, the Dáil is.
      Its a way of avoiding making a decision.

  5. Observer

    By going down the Constitutional Convention route, a referendum on gay marriage was taken out of the political space. If the Convention didn’t happen and there was just a referendum straight away, the campaign would have been much more divisive and at best, the margin of victory would have been lesser.

    This will allow for some of the political heat to be taken out of the debate, and will lead to a greater likelihood of the 8th amendment actually being repealed. If the purpose to repeal the 8th amendment, then supporting the Taoiseach’s proposal make sense.

    If the purpose is to have a contentious debate, then opposing the Taoiseach’s proposal make sense.

    1. ollie

      Taking the word of a proven liar to so something if he is re elected? No thanks, I’ll pin my faith in those who aren’t gombeen cute hoor liars.

    2. antigonite


      Separately, why does it matter if Fiona is from a School of Law? I studied in Trinity and UCD Law Schools and work as a lawyer but I don’t see how my political opinions are any better than anyone else’s? If anything the fact she’s in Birmingham makes her opinion carry less weight as she does not have to live with the consequences of the law in this country or indeed pay as a tax payer for the 20 referenda she wants to have called.

      1. scottser

        ‘ the fact she’s in Birmingham makes her opinion carry less weight as she does not have to live with the consequences of the law in this country’

        umm, where do women go if they want a termination? yup, to the uk. her taxes pay for the procedure under the NHS.

    3. realPolithicks

      This is simply a way to pretend to do something without actually doing anything. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it.

  6. Clampers Outside!

    The simple answer is “no”.

    Enda is a tool who thinks half baked, half hearted, half thought out, and half committed too is a proper answer. And when pushed, he’ll lie.

    He is not a leader, he’s a liar. I’d love to see the insincere fool of a man lose his role. He treats the people with derision if you ask me.

Comments are closed.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!