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After yesterday. What next in relation to X? November 15, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Yesterday was perhaps not the day to talk about this given the rawness of the news and the wave of emotion that found both political and other expression. The contributions in the Dáil were interesting. And those in the evening from the Technical Group and ULA were uniformly excellent given the constrained time allowed them (as indeed in fairness was Gerry Adams contribution earlier in the day). As was the protest outside the Dáil which by its very presence and numbers suggested some strength to the feelings expressed.

But what next? A noticeably diminished Minister Reilly in the Dáil wasn’t offering any clear path forward and was fairly testy at that in not doing so. The news that Joan Collins, Clare Daly and Mick Wallace intend to bring their bill forward again is good and it will be interesting to see what response that gets. The supine attitude of many in the LP has been revelatory to some and what happens in that quarter will be telling. But even if the LP came on board in their entirety it would seem that support for legislation on foot of X would still not command a majority. Yet it is fair, I think to point to the lack of effort, particularly by the LP but by no means them alone, in relation to ignoring X which has led to where we are today, one where no political capital was seriously expended in even implementing the minimal provision that would result on foot of that case.

Noticeable too by its absence was any coherent response from anti-abortion organisations. That too will be instructive once they attempt to wrest the narrative in their direction – at least in terms of how they shape it.

Difficult not to suspect that the death of Savita Halappanavar has brought in appalling tragedy something of the realities facing many women in near-impossible situations home to a broader group of people than hitherto, in perhaps a similar way to the X case did some twenty years or so ago.

On something of a tangent in relation to the protest in Dublin, in the very same article the Irish Times had the following paragraphs

Several hundred people attended a protest outside Dáil Éireann this evening in memory of Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicaemia following a miscarriage at Galway University Hospital.

And:

Meanwhile in Dublin over two thousand people gathered outside the Dáil to protest over Ms Halappanavar’s death and calling for legislation giving effect to the X case.

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Comments»

1. revolutionaryprogramme - November 15, 2012
2. Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

More anti-Labour copy from this blog. We really are the itch you can’t help scratching. Labour is the only pro-choice party in Dáil Éireann (given that Joe Higgins is now an independent having tipped his comrade overboard). You yourself even recognise that there is not a majority for X, never mind wider legislation, in the Oireachtas without bringing the conservative parties on board. This is the essential difference between Clare Daly, her tax fraudster buddy and the position of the LP. While Clare’s bill was useful in maintaining pressure on this issue, it was never going to reach the statute book and was also legally deficient. Indeed, it might be argued that Clare never really had any intention of seeing her bill enacted, but that’s another debate. This was why Labour deputies voted against her bill.

Labour recognises that to successfully legislate for X we need to bring a sufficient number of FG deputies (and FF for that matter) with us. That is a big ask given the religio-cultural background of FG (and FF) and the pressure that is being applied to them by the anti-choice lobby. The mechanism that will bring FG to the table is the expert group, which provides the necessary cover for sufficient FG deputies to support legislating for X. The huge problem with this strategy is the time it is taking to put everything in place in this Dáil to successfully legislate for X. We saw yesterday what continuing delay can result in. I felt sick to my stomach at the news of Savita’s cruel and unnecessary death and was outisde the Dáil last night in memory of her and to protest the continuing delay in legislating.

However, we know what it will take to get legislation on X across the line and that is what Labour deputies, Labour Women and party activists are engaged in. Uninformed attacks on the only pro-choice party in the Dáil, especially when you yourself recognise the challenge of legislating for X, amounts to petty politicking and moves this issue no further forward.

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Michael Carley - November 15, 2012

If Clare Daly’s bill was never going to reach the statute book, why not take a position of principle and support it? If nothing else, it would put you on the right side.

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CMK - November 15, 2012

You won’t get an answer to that question, Michael.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

Because politics is about delivery not striking poses. Getting legislation on X requries persuading a majority of conservative TDs in FG and FF to vote with us. As gratifying as it might be to some, grandstanding is not going to deliver that support.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 15, 2012

“Because politics is about delivery not striking poses.”

What a load of self-serving BS.

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sonofstan - November 15, 2012

The idea that CD et al were ‘striking poses’ is pretty damn offensive under the circumstances. And politics for Labour on government has been about delivery alright – delivery of FG policy with added hand wringing.

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Ed - November 15, 2012

If I was you Desmond, I would take a look at the comments on this blog since you first posted, and recognise how little patience there is going to be for your self-righteous waffle. You appear to be incapable of opening your mouth without insulting those who, unlike your party, have actually done something on this issue. This kind of blather may go down well among those who consider Ruairi Quinn to be a great visionary, but not here.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

But you’ve achieved nothing, Ed. Lots of action and no progress whatsoever. This is the essential difference between the maninstream Left and its oppositionalist and revvo outliers … we deliver (on health, education, social protection, workers rights, gender equality et al) while all you do is complain and protest and congratulate yourself on that being enough.

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Wendy Lyon - November 15, 2012

While Clare’s bill was useful in maintaining pressure on this issue, it was never going to reach the statute book and was also legally deficient. Indeed, it might be argued that Clare never really had any intention of seeing her bill enacted, but that’s another debate. This was why Labour deputies voted against her bill.

Do you actually think you’re fooling anyone Desmond? If the bill had been drafted by Máire Whelan your TDs would still have voted against it, because they were ordered to do so to protect the coalition. I’m sure many of them weren’t happy about that but it nothing to do with any flaws in the bill itself (which could have been rectified anyway in the later stages that every bill goes through).

It’s increasingly obvious that the “expert group” is not going to recommend primary legislation anyway, and what it does recommend will be wholly unsatisfactory from the point of view of either clarity or effectiveness, but no doubt Labour will welcome it and claim credit for it no matter how short it falls from actually vindicating the pregnant woman’s right to life. Your party has done nothing but posture on this issue from day one and to say that is not petty politicking, it’s the simple truth that everyone recognises except you.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

Wendy, I’m not sure what you’r esayign here. if Máire Whelan were to draft a bill then I’m guessing it would be a government bill. Such a bill would have the support of all government TDs.

On your second point about the expert group report. Unless you have seen that report or have access to its contents or authors you know no more about its contents than I do. We can speculate about what’s in it all we like, but in order to get legislation on X across the line we need the support of conservative TDs in FG (and FF). That is what the expert group report is designed to facilitate. The necessity to build a majority coalition across the Dáil to legislate on X is something that does not seem to have occurred to Clare Daly when she submitted her bill.

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Wendy Lyon - November 15, 2012

Wendy, I’m not sure what you’r esayign here. if Máire Whelan were to draft a bill then I’m guessing it would be a government bill.

I’m saying that if she had drafted the bill which Clare Daly submitted, i.e. if she had given Clare a bill which was legally perfect (something almost no bills ever are, anyway). Obviously she wouldn’t have done that, but the likelihood of it happening isn’t the point. Labour didn’t vote against it because of the way it was drafted.

Unless you have seen that report or have access to its contents or authors you know no more about its contents than I do. We can speculate about what’s in it all we like, but in order to get legislation on X across the line we need the support of conservative TDs in FG (and FF). That is what the expert group report is designed to facilitate.

You’ve just contradicted yourself there. Without access to the report’s content you have no idea what it is designed to facilitate, either. But if it isn’t primary legislation, and there is reason to believe it won’t be, the support of any TDs other than James Reilly won’t matter a jot.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

But Máire Whelan didn’t draft Daly’s bill .. that’s pretty much the point. If she had, it wouldn’t be Daly’s bill; it woudl be a government bill.

On your second point, I can see what you mean but I wouldn’t agree that it’s a contradiction. To get conservative TDs to support the bill and hence to deliver legislation on X requires something more than the ECHR ruling (or the SC rulings before that!). This is what the expert group is designed to do. It provides cover for FG TDs to vote for a bill legislating for X while enabling them to reserve their position on the substantive issue of abortion rights generally. I know it’s not perfect and is hugely frustrating but in a country like this it at least provides the means by which we get this legislation across the line.

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Wendy Lyon - November 15, 2012

This is a bit like arguing in Spanish with someone who only speaks French (or pretends to). You haven’t actually addressed my points, you just keep rewording yours.

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Mark P - November 15, 2012

Wendy,

You say above that “there’s reason to believe it won’t be” primary legislation that the report will be designed to facilitate. This possibility was raised in a question Gilmore was asked, as reported in the Independent:

“When asked if this meant bringing in legislation or regulation, he said the Government would see what the group recommends.”

This makes a certain amount of sense to me simply on the common sense basis that I expect this spineless government to try to fudge things, but I hadn’t really heard much about it. Is there something more substantive behind this expectation than this sort of common sense assumption though?

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Wendy Lyon - November 15, 2012

Not really Mark. Just rumblings, and reading between the lines of certain recent Labour pronouncements.

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RosencrantzisDead - November 15, 2012

It is hard to see how it could come in a form other than primary legislation. I doubt there is an existing act wide enough to accommodate an amendment to the 1861 Act.

It would be particularly sneaky of the government to try and introduce this by way of secondary legislation. Such a statutory instrument would most likely be open to challenges by lifers on grounds that it exceeds the ambit of the original, primary legislation and/or the primary legislation violates the rule on ‘non-delegation’. Of course, if the courts strike it down the government can claim they have legislated as required and that the nasty judiciary have frustrated their bona fide efforts.

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dmfod - November 15, 2012

What on earth makes you think an ‘expert group’ will persuade FG/FF to change their position when the Supreme Court and the ECHR have both made no difference? One possibility is that the LP was stupid enough to fall for this line from FG, as has been the case in relation to many of the – admittedly very few issues on which there is any difference at all with FG. Another is that you’re just being disingenuous, which given the pack of lies Labour told during the last election, is actually more likely.

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Mark P - November 15, 2012

Yes, exactly, RiD. It’s very hard to see, just looking at the mechanics involved, how they could give effect to the Supreme Court ruling without primary legislation. But that, of course, assumes a good faith effort to give effect to the ruling in the first place, which is obviously quite an assumption.

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3. Red Hand - November 15, 2012

Desmond that is bollocks. You are a bunch of craven cowards and your liberalism is barely skin-deep.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

So now we have sterile abuse being thrown about. Congratulations, Red Hand, that’s really going to help.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 15, 2012

It helps no more that slurring Clare Daly with the dig about Wallace. Let’s have some sanity here. The question is whether the LP have any backbone on this? Obviously there is the problem of FF/FG/SF being spilt on this matter, so who is going to show some leadership and insist on timely legislation to prevent another unnecessary death like this? Are the LP going to show that leadership? If not then don;t wax lyrical with rhetoric, just walk the walk.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

Clare Daly herself emphasised her association with that tax fraudster last night at the rally outisde LH when she specifically praised him for his support for the bill on X. I am saying nothing that Daly herself has not said repeatedly on this matter.

On your substantial point, Labour insisted on inserting the requirement to move on X into the programme for government. We now have the expert group report and Eamon Gilmore has said that a response to the ECHR is required by the end of November. The fact that we are not beating our chests like others does not mean that this issue is not being progressed.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 15, 2012

You brought up Wallace where he has absolutely no relevance to the issue being discussed, purely to attempt to discredit her. It’s a nasty little man that you are.

Well we’ll see just how much Labour delivers on this, won’t we. One death isn’t enough to light a bit of a fire under you, no? How many do you need?

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sonofstan - November 15, 2012

Mick Wallace is small time compared to some of the low life the LP hang out with: Reilly and Hogan, to pick two.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

It is Clare Daly who thinks this tax fraudster is relevant to legislating on X. She said exactly that only last night at the rally outside LH. I know that Daly’s open association with Wallace embarrases the hell out of many people on this thread, but she herself repeatedly and explicity draws attention to it. It is quite ironic to criticise me for doing exactly what Clare Daly does when speaking on this matter.

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Jim Monaghan - November 15, 2012

Daly should have little to do with Wallace and the Labour Party should have little to do with Reilly.

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Ed - November 15, 2012

Everything that is wrong with the Labour Party is in evidence in Desmond O’Toole’s comments: the vanity—’we really are the itch you can’t help scratching’—the arrogance—’the only pro-choice party’, a few months after Labour refused to support legislation on the X case—and the hypocrisy—whining about ‘sterile abuse’ after including a completely gratuitous dig about Mick Wallace in a desperate attempt to throw some mud, any mud will do, at Clare Daly, who had the guts and the decency to do what Labour has consistently failed to do since the early 90s.

The ‘expert group’ is a sham and well you know it; its purpose is not to ‘bring FG to the table’, its purpose is to provide Labour with the necessary cover for doing absolutely nothing (because in this case, they can’t blame the Troika). ‘Labour—we don’t do shame’ would be my suggestion for the party’s new motto.

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sonofstan - November 15, 2012

The Labour Party have disgraced themselves on this: and I speak as former member, and probable one of the few people here who still has friends in the party and hasn’t totally given up on them.

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sonofstan - November 15, 2012

……apparently the Tanaiste reckons it’s time for ‘legal clarity’ on the matter. Good man.

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Wendy Lyon - November 15, 2012

I’m really annoyed at the constant suggestion that what we need is simple “clarity”. That’s not what the ECtHR said. They said the right to a legal abortion needs to be an effective right. A clear law which isn’t properly enforced, and doesn’t actually allow for women to have abortions when there’s a real and substantial risk to their life, would still breach their Convention rights.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

I’ve dealt with Daly’s outspoken association with a tax fraudster on this matter above. The remainder of your post is simply jobbing abuse.

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maddurdu - November 15, 2012

Desmond, you’re coming across as really childish.

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4. Red Hand - November 15, 2012

Sorry for hurting your feelings Desmond, its just that Free State Labour turn my stomach, on the one hand bullshit about how liberal you are, which is never reflected in reality, except to cover up failings on economic justice (Bacik’s move rightwards has been particularly puke-inducing), then the claim that yourselves and FG (at core Catholic right-wingers) are going to sort this out. Who was in government 1992-97, just after the X case- the oh, so, pro-choice Labour party, and you didn’t fucking sort it then and a women is dead now. So go off and have a discussion with Sean Treacy and Brendan Corish about how fucking progressive you are.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

More juvenile abuse .. is there anyone on this thread who will actually engage on the substance of this issue?

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sonofstan - November 15, 2012

The one substantial attempt by legislators to deal with the issue – TDs are meant to be legislators, remember? – has been characterised by you as ‘striking poses’. And that effort came from the parliamentary left, on the first occasion it had the numbers to do so. Whereas Labour has always had those numbers, and further, have been in Government twice during the 20 years since X.

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CMK - November 15, 2012

What substance? Apologetics for Labour’s inaction over TWENTY YEARS!!!!!!!. You seriously can’t be lacking in self-awareness to the extent that you expect a respectful hearing here for the Labour position, morally and politically bankrupt as it is? Can you? If the Labour Party had fought and been defeated in its efforts to legislate for the X case it would be entitled to respect. It has sat on its collective, smug, liberal ass with predictable results and you then have the cheek to come here an lecture us on how Clare Daly, a little over a year in the Dáil, actually went and DID something about X. You deserve every bit of grief you get here, Desmond, every bit.

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Ed - November 15, 2012

And more shameless hypocrisy from the man who started off with personal barbs directed at Clare Daly. The ‘substance’ of your waffle has been dealt with more than adequately. Your performance on this thread has been both juvenile and spiteful, and it is quite remarkable that everyone has shown such maturity and restraint in responding to you.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

Yet more pointless abuse … and we wonder why the oppositionalist Left delivers nothing. i guess scratching your Labour Party itch is just so much more inviting.

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CMK - November 15, 2012

‘Labour: The Pointless Party’. ‘Why do we exist? We don’t know, but the pay is good and the pensions even better. But the sense of moral superiority is best of all.’

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Michael Carley - November 15, 2012

As has been pointed out above, Labour has delivered precisely nothing on abortion, or on bringing `clarity’ after the X case, despite having twenty years, some of them in government, when it could have done so.

The `oppositionalist Left’ (interest declared, I was a member of the SP in Ireland, and am one in England) did bring forward legislation which Labour opposed. What concrete action has Labour taken on this, and what has it delivered?

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Ed - November 15, 2012

Careful Michael, you might make his head explode if you insist on bringing reality into the discussion. We are dealing with someone who has no need of mere evidence to justify his world-view: certain things are just true, by definition, regardless of what the facts might suggest. Labour is, by definition, ‘the party that delivers'; the ‘oppositionalist Left’ are just noisy extremists who achieve nothing.

The fact that Labour has achieved precisely nothing on abortion and the X case, despite serving in 3 governments since 1992, while the ‘oppositionalist Left’ has actually brought forward legislation at the earliest possible opportunity (which Labour refused to support) cannot be allowed to intrude on this comforting fantasy. Labour is the party which delivers, which delivers, which delivers … if you keep repeating the mantra to yourself, those pesky facts need never get in the way. It’s like debating with a 30s Stalinist and trying to tell him about the famine in the Ukraine.

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5. Bartley - November 15, 2012

Just to bring some reality to the very recent rebranding of Labour as the only pro-choice party in the Dáil.

Say we go ahead and legislate for X, and clarify the legality of abortion when the life of the mother is genuinely in peril.

This most decidedly would not be choice, in the sense that the mother can choose to have an abortion. Rather, medical professionals would effectively make the decision gating the procedure one way way or the other.

So to argue that some crypto-support for X legislation establishes Labours pro-choice credentials, is either to be mis-leading, or to reveal the hidden motivation that this step is intended as the first on the road to abortion on demand.

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irishelectionliterature - November 15, 2012

You have a point there Bartley and the reality is that in the current Dail (with SF,FF and FG opposition to abortion) the likelihood is that legislating for X is the closest to a pro choice position we could get.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 15, 2012

I’m going to do the unthinkable here by defending SF and clarify that the following SF TDs voted in favour of Clare Daly’s Bill:

Gerry Adams
Sean Crowe
Martin Ferris
Pádraig MacLochlainn
Aengus Ó Snodaigh
Brian Stanley
Michael Colreavy
Dessie Ellis
Mary Lou McDonald

So they are not homogeneous in their opposition.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

However, those same people oppose access for women in Ireland (North and South) to legal, free and safe abortion on demand.

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Blissett - November 15, 2012

Which differentiates them from the Labour Party in which respect?!

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

Labour Party policy is for abortion on demand. We are the only party in the Dáil which advocates this policy. Sinn Fein oppose women’s right to choose except in the limited exceptions provided by the Supreme Court.

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Wendy Lyon - November 15, 2012

Desmond, could you please provide a link to the Labour party statement supporting legal, free and safe abortion on demand?

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shay whelan - November 18, 2012

On Desmond O’Toole’s laughable statement that Labour is for abortion on demand:

“”In relation to Abortion our position is that Labour in Government will legislate in accordance with the Supreme Court judgement in the X case, arising from the Irish peoples decisions in a number of Constitutional Referenda. We do not support the introduction of Abortion on demand. Legislating in accordance with the X Case is now an obligation on any incoming Government, no matter which parties make it up, as a consequence of the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights. Labour will also legislate to regulate stem cell research, with regard to the recommendations of the Irish Council for Bioethics.”

Eamon Gilmore, Labour Party, Dun Laoghaire

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RosencrantzisDead - November 18, 2012

When did Gilmore say that? Very interesting.

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WorldbyStorm - November 18, 2012

I can only find it on the Youth Defence and other anti-abortion sites. They’ve got it categorised under ‘On the hustings’. Hard to know what to make of it without a date etc…

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irishelectionliterature - November 15, 2012

Yes, should have said elements of SF

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

Labour’s pro-choice credentials are not grounded in our support for legislation on X. Unlike all other parties in Dáil Éireann, Labour supports access to free, legal and safe abortion in Ireland as is available across Europe.

You are right on the issue of just how limited legislaiton on X actually is. I agree that it comes nowhere near constituting the free exercise of choice by a woman whose life is directly threatened by her pregnancy. It is, however, a necessary first step. Opinion in Ireland is moving our way and Savita’s awful death might indeed constitute a “tipping point” in how Irish people regard women’s safety, autonomy and right to reproductive choice.

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revolutionaryprogramme - November 15, 2012

Would you, and others in this thread, therefore support a campaign for free, legal and safe abortion starting with a change to the Constitution to delete Article 40.3.3?

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

Yes, I already do.

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Bartley - November 15, 2012

Labour supports access to free, legal and safe abortion in Ireland as is available across Europe.

Its traditional to describe what a party actually stands for in the election manifesto which it puts before the electorate:

http://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/labour_election_manifesto_2011.pdf

Couldnt bring myself to wade through that treacle, but the search function on my browser reports 119 hits for reform, 19 hits for fairness, but just one for X case, and not even a single hit for abortion, or safe & free access thereto.

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CMK - November 15, 2012

Fair play to you, Bartley. Words I thought I never write on CLR!

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CMK - November 15, 2012

Desmond? Desmond? Calling Desmond! Can you respond to Bartley’s point above?

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sonofstan - November 15, 2012

Extraordinary times forge strange alliances alright: I nearly complimented Bartley on his previous post, but got distracted by D O’T

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

Resolution adopted by LP Conference 2012:

Conference notes with urgent concern:

The legislative void preventing constitutionally mandated, safe and legal terminations of pregnancy, where the woman’s life is endangered.

Conference supports:

The implementation of statutory guidelines outlining, for medical practitioners, instances of legally permissible terminations.

Conference recognises:

The restriction of terminations within the narrow constraints of the Supreme Court judgment in Attorney General v X (allowed where, as a matter of probability, a real and substantial risk to the life of the woman exists, including risk of suicide) does not properly vindicate the right to life of the woman protected under article 40.3.3 of Bunreacht na hÉireann.

Conference further recognises:

The urgent need to implement the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights in ABC v. Ireland; and the urgent need therefore to pass legislation following the report of the Expert Group on the ABC judgment in June.

Conference also supports:

The longer term need to provide for abortion to be carried out legally in Ireland on grounds wider than risk to life or risk to health, in accordance with a truly pro-choice policy.

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revolutionaryprogramme - November 15, 2012

Not quite the same as what they were prepared to tell Choice Ireland – http://choiceireland.org/node/60

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Wendy Lyon - November 15, 2012

In fairness that policy was sent to Choice Ireland back in 2008 or so. It’s up to them to ask for it to be updated.

Does anyone know if Éirígí ever adopted a policy?

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

The resolution sets out both near-term and, importantly, longer-term policy on this matter. The article you reference is a detailed discussion of near-term options only.

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revolutionaryprogramme - November 15, 2012

Apologies – the Choice Ireland piece isn’t dated. I assumed it was from the election last year.

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CMK - November 15, 2012

That’s not policy; it’s aspiration. For a party in government what that party does in government, not what it states at its conference, IS the party policy. Labour’s policy is to vote against legislation on the X case. That’s what its Dáil group did for the Clare Daly bill, and THAT is Labour policy not the hot air and waffle above.

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6. Gearóid - November 15, 2012

Desmond, show a bit of courtesy and respect given the issues at hand.

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Ed - November 15, 2012

+1. Under normal circumstances, the childish trolling about Clare Daly would be merely irritating; in the present context, it’s rather obscene.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

Once again … I refer you to Clare Daly’s own comments made at the rally outside LH yesterday evening.

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Ed - November 15, 2012

I’d rather you didn’t. Just keep your spiteful, juvenile trolling to yourself. Your feeble attempt to justify it is of no interest to me. Have some decency, have some dignity, have some respect. It might go down well in certain circles but not here.

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Desmond O'Toole - November 15, 2012

I’m not surprised you don’t want me to reference Clare Daly’s comments yesterday evening. Her comments deal directly with your complaint.

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Ed - November 15, 2012

No, they don’t. Under normal circumstances I would be happy to watch you expose yourself in this fashion, but as I said, this is different, and it’s time for you to stop trolling and some some respect.

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7. sonofstan - November 15, 2012

FFS, Desmond: Last night Clare Daly referred to Mick Wallace as co-sponsor, along with Joan Collins, of the Bill she moved in the Dail in April. That was her sole reference to him. Why on earth would you want to make anything more of it under these circumstances?

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8. LeftAtTheCross - November 15, 2012

Given the enormity of what happened in that hospital, perhaps we should all take a step back from the squabbling and count to ten. Certainly there is an arrogance about the political class and Desmond personifies it regularly here better than most. Equally certainly there is an over enthusiasm on the further Left to use every stick available to beat the LP over the head. The issue is appropriateness of response on all sides. If Clare Daly’s Bill had been put into law would it have saved this woman’s life? If so, then the political class deserve to be accused of negligence. If not, they deserve to be accused of complacency for not expediting (over 20 years) the process to create a more appropriate legislative framework. Some within the political class bear more responsibility than others clearly. But even having said that, there are very few who come out of this well. The failure to act in a timely manner is undeniable. That’s the bottom line. Now feel free to resume the cat fight and name calling and distractions.

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sonofstan - November 15, 2012

You’re right of course.

I’m going for a walk.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 15, 2012

SoS, you haven’t said anything above or on other threads on this matter with which I would disagree in the slightest, neither in substance nor in tone.

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9. irishelectionliterature - November 15, 2012

The Savita case is just a horror and hopefully will force them to legislate for X at the very least.

I think this is far more powerful than the X Case as it was (pardon the expression) a ‘normal’ pregnancy . Savita was in a situation any woman in Ireland could have been in and one that most if not all women (and men) relate to.
That is why the pro lifers are quiet.

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10. Mark P - November 15, 2012

I quite genuinely think that Desmond’s presence here is a welcome one.

Too often, in the absence of actual Labour Party activists, left wingers can talk themselves into thinking that there’s still some meaningful leftist component to Labour. They can talk aspirationally about working with Labour, about encouraging them to have a bit more spine or the like. Desmond’s contributions, and the contributions of Labour Party members like him, serve to provide some real grounding to discussion of the Labour Party and its membership.

Here we have displayed as clearly as we could wish, the arrogance, self-regard, dishonesty and smugness of the Labour Party. The complete lack of even the slightest left wing sentiment. The complete dismissal of every one who actually does espouse the slightest left wing sentiment. The absolute unwillingness to engage honestly with any argument put to him. Desmond’s approach is uncharacteristically blunt, in a party where vague waffle is prized highly, but at its core, I submit that he serves as a pretty representative sample of the thinking of real Labour partisans in Ireland. It’s Joan Burton’s splutterings on the Vincent Browne show rendered a little more coherent.

The amusing thing about Desmond’s initial post is that his self-righteous accusation that there’s some deep rooted bias amongst the people running this blog against Labour is so wrong. This site is committed to what could be called a “broad tent” leftism, something that often leads me to disagree with people like WorldbyStorm because I have no such commitment. Whether you are the CP or Sinn Fein or whoever, if you are a centimeter to the left of the neoliberal consensus or right out on the radical fringe, you’ll get a hearing and if you ask you’ll have your events and publications advertised. Just as with the Greens previously, I have no doubt that WbS and others would prefer not to be putting the boot into Labour and would indeed prefer to be engaging with constructive Labour Party members in the comments sections. The problem is that Labour’s actual behaviour in government doesn’t allow leftists of any stripe to do that, because its behaviour is so consistently reprehensible. And there are very, very few constructive, left leaning, Labour Party members to engage with anywhere.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 15, 2012

And here is an perfect example of the mirror image of Desmond’s arrogance, where more condemnation is heaped upon ideological enemies and teh sunstantive issue of the death of a woman in a Galway hospital is completely ignored. Petty petty petty. Mark P welomes Desmond because it justifies his own narrow-minded and self-centred worldview. two of a pair. F*** off the pair of you, neither of you offer anything positive to the political process of improving the lives of people.

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Mark P - November 15, 2012

LeftAtTheCross, get off your high horse, you pompous self-regarding fool.

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WorldbyStorm - November 15, 2012

Well no thanks at all to Desmond O’Toole for causing chaos and setting people against each other here.

I know feelings are running high at the moment and understandably so. Could we not just give it a rest though – O’Toole has been bad enough without us falling out with each other (or at least going beyond the bounds of usual conversational norms on the site – I’m not asking people to like each other).

This is why I hate trolling and deliberately obnoxious comments because it makes interactions on here more belligerent and confrontational than they otherwise would be – and certainly an hell of a lot more so than if we were sitting around a table having a cup of coffee.

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11. doctorfive - November 15, 2012

Lone woman holding a ‘shame’ placard outside Galway Hospital since 8.30am this morning.

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12. Mark P - November 15, 2012

There will be protests at Irish embassies around the world on Wednesday. I see on facebook that the one in Brussels will be at 6 PM.

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13. maddurdu - November 15, 2012

All I want to say to desmond has already been said by Seán Lemass;

‘I gather from [Labour] Deputy Tully that someone accused the Labour Party of going ‘Red’, which hurt his feelings very much. May I straightaway dissociate myself from any such suggestion? The Labour Party are, and always have been, the most conservative element in our community. Far from the Labour Party going ‘Red’, they are not going anywhere . . . the Labour Party are a nice, respectable, docile, harmless body of men—as harmless a body as ever graced any parliament.’

-

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14. fergal - November 15, 2012

Says on the Galway tourism site that “it is a culturally thriving and bohemian city on the west coast”. it forgot to add that it is subject to Medieval laws on pregnancy terminations. What are the so-called pro-life people saying about this scandal?All(!) life is precious?

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RosencrantzisDead - November 15, 2012

They are claiming that the left and pro-choice are ‘exploiting’ the situation. They are also stating that we do not know the full facts and are subtly hinting that Mrs. Halappanavar’s husband is a liar.

George Carlin puts it best, I think (Not Safe For Work: Strong Language): http://youtu.be/AvF1Q3UidWM

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15. greengoddess2 - November 15, 2012

I am told that the likely outcome of the report will some kind of. ” Enabling Act” which will allow the Minister to make a Directive of some sort. This will save the Fine Gael Tds who object from having to vote on direct primary legislation. Don’t ask me to explain the legalities. Desmond is right, it is to provide political cover. Otherwise there is a risk to the government, seemingly.
The Campaign for Labour Policies is having a meeting on Saturday on this subject.

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RosencrantzisDead - November 15, 2012

It sounds ridiculous. Every TD is invariably going to have to know that the enabling act will be to enable the Minister to make regulations for the provision of abortions. Otherwise the act will fall foul of the Constitution.

How will this avoid controversy?

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dmfod - November 15, 2012

Of course that’s true for anyone being honest about it, but it looks as though the whole purpose of the expert group – at least from Labour’s perspective – was to find a way of allowing FG TDs to vote for abortion, without it looking like that’s what they’re doing. This makes a kind of sense, as FGers voting to allow someone else to legislate for abortion is the same hypocritical ‘morality’ that boasts that ‘there are no abortions in Ireland’ and that ‘Ireland is the safest place on earth to have a child’, but neglects to mention we export all our abortions, including the ones caused by problem pregnancies.

From FG’s perspective, the original purpose of the Expert Group was obviously a) to kick the can as far down the road as possible, preferably til the next election, though this is looking less feasible now after Savita’s death and b) to find a legal excuse not to legislate for X and/or a means of looking as though they are legislating for X (to some people) without actually doing so.

Maybe James Reilly is far enough removed from your average gombeen FG TD for this legislating-by-proxy gambit to wash or maybe not – or maybe they can get him to legislate for X and then kick him out of the party, claiming they had no idea he would bring in such permissive legislation! he’s become a bit of liability for FG anyway…

the other point is that a ministerial directive can be far more easily overturned than normal legislation and won’t be subject to kind of scrutiny Dail legislation gets, storing up more legal problems for the future.

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WorldbyStorm - November 15, 2012

I think that sounds spot on dmfod. Llook at what the LP says in its 2011 Manifesto (and all due credit to Bartley for finding that) – the document it put before the Irish people at the most recent election:

Labour in government will legislate in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment in the X Case, and the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

So even though holding a pro-choice position in its political documentation it doesn’t follow that through and instead concentrates on the X case. Well, not quite actually.

What of the Programme for a National Government? No mention of a pro-choice line (or abortion directly IIRC).

Instead we get:

We acknowledge the recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights subsequent to the established ruling of the Irish Supreme Court on the X-case. We will establish an expert group to address this issue, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise with a view to making recommendations to Government on how this matter should be properly addressed.

Note that the language there which says nothing at all about implementing the right of Irish women to an abortion if their life is at risk including from suicide which is what the Supreme Court established in 1992. Indeed it has self-evidently been constructed in such a way as to avoid saying that. Hardly an hopeful sign. And what our pal O’Toole above is essentially asking is people take it on trust that the right thing will be done with X. Why? Why after twenty years and numerous opportunities between 1992 and 1997 and early 2011 and today when something could have been done (and actually was by Collins, Daly and Wallace), should we accept that proposition?

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dmfod - November 15, 2012

surely the FGers will still go nuts as it would be still be FG, through the minister, introducing abortion? and would the directive fully implement X, including suicide risk?

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16. irishelectionliterature - November 15, 2012

The organised backlash from The Pro Life Movement..

http://www.opinionviewer.com/petition/dont-let-savitas-tragic-death-be-exploited

(to save you clicking on the above link….)

Don’t Let Savita’s Tragic Death Be Exploited

This is urgent, and vitally important.

The Expert Group’s report on abortion has gone to the Minister for Health. The same day a tragic story broke about a young woman who died in University Hospital Galway following a miscarriage. Her death is now being exploited to promote a pro-abortion agenda.

TDs are being lobbied hard to agree that abortion should be legalised. They are being harassed with the message that they are responsible for the death of Savita Halappanavar. This is not true.

It is essential that all TDs hear from you that the tragic death of Dr Halappanavar is not related to Ireland’s ban on abortion. Otherwise, many will be pressured into making statements that will make it very difficult for them to oppose the looming legalisation of abortion in Ireland.

Please, please, sign the letter below today, and send it to as many TDs as you can.
——

Sign This Petition & Send It To The Relevant People!

The tragic death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway last month is a reminder of how important it is to ensure that women in Ireland receive the best possible medical care during pregnancy.

I am, however, appalled to see that this tragedy is being exploited by those who wish to see abortion introduced in Ireland.

It is well known that it is standard medical practice here to do everything possible to save the life of a pregnant woman when complications arise. This may include interventions which result, unintentionally, in the death of the baby.
 The death of a baby in such circumstances does not constitute abortion as commonly understood. All reasonable steps are taken to save the baby if this is possible, in abortion all steps are taken to ensure that the baby dies. This is an important distinction and failure to understand it causes much confusion.

Emergency interventions are in accordance with existing Irish law and medical ethics. For a more detailed analysis I recommend the following websites:

http://www.prolife.ie/prolife/tragic-death-galway-hospital-leaves-unansw

http://prolifecampaign.ie/?page_id=2539

http://www.thelifeinstitute.net/latest-news/the-tragic-loss-of-savita-ha

The death of Savita Halappanavar was not due to Irish law or medical ethics. To claim that it was is dishonest, and a blatant attempt to exploit this awful tragedy.

Furthermore, it deflects attention from the urgent questions this case raises:

Could doctors have saved Savita’s life if they intervened, as permitted by Irish law and medical ethics?

If so, why did they not?

What is needed now is an independent investigation led by someone from outside Ireland. Unlike the government’s current Expert Group, this investigation team should not have members who are abortion campaigners.

I have no doubt that when the full facts of Savita’s case emerge it will be clear that her death was a result of the failure to apply existing medical practice.

Over the next few months there will be considerable debate on the Expert Group’s report. I urge you not to support any position which supports the legalisation of abortion.

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17. greengoddess2 - November 15, 2012

Why is no one challenging Sinn Fein on this?

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Mark P - November 15, 2012

Challenging Sinn Fein on what?

Sinn Fein have a bad position on abortion rights and a bad record on it too, particularly in their voting history in the Northern Assembly. But on the particular sub-issue of legislating for X they are in favour of it and, unlike Labour, did actually vote in line with their stated position six months ago.

I’m all for putting the boot into Sinn Fein when they’ve earned it, and I’m all for challenging them on their refusal to support a woman’s right to choose, but they aren’t the problem here.

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irishelectionliterature - November 15, 2012

A number of them did in the other Savita thread.
To answer your question I presume its because they are not in government and any bill from Sinn Fein is hardly likely to get support from FG or FF.
Plus many of them voted in favour of Clare Dalys bill.

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18. smiffy - November 15, 2012

It’s almost exactly 20 years (25 November) since the Irish people upheld the Supreme Court judgement in the X case, supporting a woman’s right to termination where her life is at risk.

The Labour Party’s been in power for nearly 7 years since then.

Desmond, I have more sympathy than most on here for the delivery/aspiration dilemma. But Labour has a responsibility here for the failure to legislate, which led directly to the death in Galway last month. Perhaps not the same responsibility as those parties who define themselves as ‘pro-life’ (although maybe now they’ll have a decency to drop that label), but a responsibility nonetheless.

The honorable thing to do would be to admit that, finally prioritise this issue and do what should have been done decades ago.

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WorldbyStorm - November 15, 2012

Entirely agree with what you say here.

I just have to add that I think Desmond O’Toole has proven to be both dishonest, absurdly belligerent and entirely out of order in his interactions on this site.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I suspect any admission of responsibility from that quarter will be unlikely to arrive.

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19. greengoddess2 - November 15, 2012

Things are becoming very fraught in Labour at the moment. This is something in common with every centre left Party in government in Europe at the moment. It breaks out in the EP when other left groups attack. It seems to frequently lead to us attacking each other! In addition, for reasons unclear to me, there is unusual dislike of the political ‘ provenence’ of the founders of Cedar Lounge. Although I find this more among the ex DL group . The attitude is the same, among this group, to Phoenix magazine. Desmond, I hasten to add does not fall in to this category. The hostility towards us is hard to take at a human level. Some times I think we are not seen as human. However I try not to retaliate myself but that has a cost too.

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WorldbyStorm - November 15, 2012

I take your point re frayed nerves, but regarding antagonism as to our provenance. that’s an odd one given that myself and one other of the original four who started it up are ex DL and I’m also ex WP. And the others were GP and non irish party political. Now we’ve an WP member, an ex LP, non party independent left inclined folk and we also had an SF member too for a couple of years. A fairly broad mix I’d have thought and surely nothing to get people worked up, even if they took it that seriously.

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20. sonofstan - November 15, 2012

Clearly some people in the LP didn’t get the memo about being a pro-choice party. Kudos to Horgan-Jones for refusing to be blurry and consensus seeking about it.

http://www.thejournal.ie/labour-councillor-demands-internal-investigation-into-senators-savita-comments-675833-Nov2012/?utm_source=shortlink

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Mark P - November 15, 2012

Horgan-Jones was on twitter yesterday demanding that every legislator in the country be asked where they stand on legislating for X. Which sounded all very good until you remember that they were all asked where they stand 6 months ago.

Even the more enthusiastic liberals amongst Labour’s politicians have this strange memory hole it seems.

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RosencrantzisDead - November 15, 2012

I believe most of them were standing in the Dail bar at the time…

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21. greengoddess2 - November 15, 2012

Such antagonism, of course , can be a way of preventing someone from engaging with what is seen as opposing voices. Especially thought to be effective with someone that would be easy to manipulate.

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CMK - November 15, 2012

Nessa, while I can understand that the bollocking being dished out to LP members here is hard to take for members of that party. But, Labour left themselves a huge hostage to fortune by trying to pull pro-choice poses over the past twenty years, making commitments on legislating for X and then, when it came to the crunch, failing to support Clare Daly’s bill. Had Labour rowed in behind Daly’s bill, or even worked with her on it, they could have deflected all of the crap being flung at them now. Tawdriness by legislators in this area will be punished eventually, particularly by legislators who promised to legislate on this pressing matter. The Labour Party, through their own pusillanimity and reluctance in this area have maneuvered themselves onto political territority which is completely unjustifiable. The ferocity of the the criticism of Labour is a reflection of that.

Also, I think Labour were playing politics cynically here by trying to appropriate the pro-choice position in their stated policies and rhetoric while simultaneously doing nothing concrete to advance the pro-choice agenda, the first step of which would be legislation for X. The context also matters: Labour are attempting to make a virtue out of their capacity to take ‘tough decisions in the national interest’ and legislating for X is one area where highly organised right wing forces and the church would have to be faced down. Labour bottled it in the mid-1990s and after and are going to pay a price for it. That price being nothing compared to the price already paid for Labour’s inaction.

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WorldbyStorm - November 15, 2012

There’s a lot in what you say CMK. In fairness I think any antagonism is to one LP member in particular and his frankly abysmal behaviour on this thread. That said it is fair enough to critique the LP more broadly though.

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22. WorldbyStorm - November 15, 2012

I want to be clear about the tired old line about this this blog being anti-LP. Like SOS I’ve considerable respect for (and I hope friendship with) people both in or semi-detached from the LP. I’ve personally been supportive to the point of getting into disagreements with other commenters in discussions on-line here as regards the efforts by a not insignificant number of LP members and representatives all the way up to TD and MEP level to carve out a way forward beyond the current impasse – efforts such as the CLP (and given that we run a reasonably open forum if there aren’t LP voices expressed as often as might be liked that’s very much a function of few enough LP commenters arriving to make their case – though today’s example is not one I’d like to see replicated).

We’ve also publicised those formations activities. Odd behaviour for someone or some blog if somehow the LP is anathema to us. But then this site tends to be supportive of those in all parties of the left and left Independents and also willing to critique all parties and Independents on the left. That’s something that appears to have escaped some in the bid to fit us out as uniquely hostile to the LP.

I don’t believe the LP is the only one at fault here, not by a long shot – I said that at the outset, but in this equation it is the only party self-avowedly of the left, self-avowedly pro-choice which has been in government three times since X and more importantly is currently in government. Moreover as the largest self-avowed left formation it has a weight which it could use to alter the narrative on this topic, even if only slightly – therefore it must of necessity shoulder a greater responsibility than others. If it doesn’t do so I think it is entirely open to criticism.

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Michael Carley - November 16, 2012

I think the Labour Party is being a bit oversensitive here (not necessarily for bad reasons). There are people on CLR who manage a comradely argument with each other even though they are from groups which in the fairly recent past were, literally, trying to kill each other. Given that, Labour Party members have little enough to worry about, bar the odd few contributors who are liable to go overboard, although those contributors go overboard on everybody.

On the other hand, is there a particular animus towards the LP, which goes beyond the arguments which might `normally’ happen between parties of the left? Quite apart from the opposition you might see to any party of government, is the LP getting more stick than it should?

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WorldbyStorm - November 16, 2012

I’d agree about the over sensitivity bit, particularly given that the LP is never behind the door in dismissing those further left. Does it get more stick? I don’t know. I think it’s similar enough to the GP – indeed I’d argue that at this point in the electoral cycle during the last govt. the GP got a worse deal in terms of animosity directed towards it.

But the CLR remains completely open to LP voices and has always welcomed them as long as they operate within the usual constraints of courtesy etc (and of course others vice versa).

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23. smiffy - November 15, 2012

Without wishing to add excessively to the chorus of disapproval around Labour, it’s worth looking again the Programme for Government and how limited the commitment around the X case actually is:

“We acknowledge the recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights subsequent to the established ruling of the Irish Supreme Court on the X-case. We will establish an expert group to address this issue, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise with a view to making recommendations to Government on how this matter should be properly addressed.”

Frankly, after the ABC judgement that’s the absolute bare minimum any government would have to do, given the obligation to follow up on the ruling. How could any government do less?

There’s no commitment, however, to legislate on the X case, let alone deal with the wider issues around abortion. For a party styling itself as ‘pro-choice’ (even one with some members who have done at least as much, if not more, than anyone else in the struggle for reproductive rights over decades) that’s pretty weak.

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WorldbyStorm - November 15, 2012

Arguably it’s less than the minimum. That language is extremely weasely, isn’t it? RevolutionaryProgramme made the excellent point that this wasn’t anywhere near pro-choice and yet the government can’t – or so it would seem – cobble together people to support this measure, at least not hitherto.

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24. greengoddess2 - November 15, 2012

” parties of the left” is becoming a problem for me personally. By that I mean that my experience of what that means is not being exemplified with sufficient force by the LP. I know that the watchword is ” whatever works” but what if it doesn’t work. And does that mean FG/EPP policy. Which is proving a disaster all over Europe and leading to social unrest that should worry everyone. All these are questions in my mind. The prevarication over this wretched report is an example. It seems it may not be published either. However, these views are arguable and some would say we are doing our best. If we are, then the damage will be repaired in the medium term. If not we are entering what Broughan calls the ” terminal phase”. It is important to stress too that this is not all about the Party. I firmly believe that if doing the right thing may be necessary to stop the country from going down the tubes. Oh, our deficit may go down to some arbitray percentage. But at what cost?

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WorldbyStorm - November 15, 2012

That’s bizarre that it might not be published.

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25. neilcaff - November 16, 2012

Just to let you know there was a great turn out at the London solidarity demo outside the Irish embassy last night. About 200 on it, mix of English political activists of various stripes (liberal, socialist, feminist) and ordinary Irish people.

A message from SP councillor Ruth Coppinger was read out and was well received.
There’s another protest planned for Wednesday as part of the international day of action.

Here’s a not very good picture of the protest I stuck up on Twitter.

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26. CL - November 16, 2012

The fable that Ireland has ‘modernized’ is just that-a fable.
A medieval catholic ethos still determines social policy.
Ireland is ‘a country in which the entire political system, against the will of the electorate, enforces medieval attitudes to abortion.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/15/ireland-medieval-abortion-law-savita

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27. greengoddess2 - November 16, 2012

This is what the Tainiste said about publishing the report.
“The Tánaiste said the Government would consider whether the report should be published, adding that there are a range of complex issues that need to be considered.”

I have to say this is puzzling to say the least . I will bring it up at two meetings tomorrow. CPL and a big Labour Women one in the Mansion House. I wonder what LW have to say about all this….
Just on another matter. I have found posters here to be very polite in the main, unlike one other site where I personally received abuse at a breathtaking and destructive level. Eventually you stop posting in such places. They then become a strange territory of trolls! However it is incumbent on public reps to take it on the chin, really. There is a difference in the experience too of one such as myself and those who occupy Leinster House every day. They catch the full heat of the opposition. And begin to worry ………

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28. greengoddess2 - November 16, 2012

From the Indo today.

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore is going to push for full laws to regulate abortion despite Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s reluctance to act in the wake of the Savita scandal, Labour is cranking up the pressure within the Coalition to bring in laws to allow abortions where the mother’s life is at risk, the Irish Independent understands.

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29. Damian O'Broin (@damianobroin) - November 16, 2012

I’ll take my life in my hands and add another LP voice to the discussion ;)

I can understand the anger being expressed towards Labour here. As Smiffy said, LP have been in govt for 7 of the last 20 years and were therefore complicit in failing to legislate.

But…

1) Labour campaigned in GE 2011 with an explicit commitment to legislate for X. Minimal, yes, but a necessary step forward and the only way to move forward without a referendum.

2) The PfG commitment is disappointingly compromised (like so much of that document) but the expert group was the face-safer for FG.

3) I would have loved to see LP support Clare’s motion. (And for the record, I think Clare is playing a blinder on this issue). I understand why they didn’t. It’s the messy compromise of coalition. A deal was there to await the expert group report. The assumption being that the expert group would have to recommend legislation. Voting for Clare’s motion could have jeopardised that agreement and process and put legislation at risk.

4) However, I think Labour deputies should have taken a more vocal stand and made clear that they only voting against the motion on the assumption that legislation would rapidly follow.

5) I’m glad Clare Daly (and Mick Wallace and Joan Collins) introduced the bill. Even if it made things uncomfortable for Labour, it was a useful prod. And Labour should be using such initiatives from the further left to help advance their own agenda with FG.

6) There are a hell of a lot of Labour Party politicians and activists who care very, very deeply about this issue and some like Ivana Bacik who have devoted huge amounts of time and energy to prochoice campaigns. Fair enough to fault their delivery, but please don’t fault their bona fides.

7) Every Labour person I spoken with or interacted with this week (with one notable exception) is absolutely committed to the need for legislation.

That said, I’m seriously concerned that we’re going to be handed a useless fudge in the next couple of weeks. As Greengoddess said, the CLP are organising on the issue and Labour supporters are lobbying their TDs to stand firm.

Oh, and for the record, I call CLR ‘critical’ of Labour, not ‘anti-Labour’ ;)

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Ed - November 16, 2012

Damian, I don’t think you’re taking your life into your hands at all … your points may be debatable, but you haven’t said anything insulting or deliberately provocative. All of the heat yesterday was generated by trolling comments from one poster about Clare Daly in particular and the radical left in general which were especially inappropriate after what had happened.

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Damian O'Broin (@damianobroin) - November 16, 2012

Ed, my tongue was firmly in cheek there!

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30. An Sionnach Fionn - November 16, 2012

[...] One detected early on that something was not quite right in the Fianna Fáil camp. A certain attitude or culture. A tendency to say one thing while doing the other. The generation of the party that spawned the Celtic Tiger scorned a belief in ideology or a core set of principles and eventually dumped their own to seize whatever seemed popular or advantageous at the time – however deplorable or ultimately destructive it may have been. They stole the clothes of Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats, and covered them with a thin veneer of mindless populism. Power, avarice and cronyism became the guiding principles of the party and its leadership. As for Labour I could never bring myself to be wholehearted in my support. There was something not quite right about them too. A certain holier-than-thou, faux-liberalism that I couldn’t stomach. Some of the biggest snobs I’ve met in my life were young Labour activists. No one can condescend quite like a Labour Party member. [...]

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31. greengoddess2 - November 16, 2012

If the PFG is the touchstone for this I am not sure what will happen. There is also a attitude among certain elements of Cabinet that basically ” it would be a shame if the Government to fall because of a row over abortion “. I am deeply uneasy over this attitude. Probably you could take the first half of the sentence and just put an x for anything in the second. Damian is right in pointing out that there could be an fudge but also that voices are being heard, from the CLP and others. It might just tip the balance. Daly’s Bill put the at among the pigeons of course, but we did the same in opposition ! The worst opposition comes from FF who have not a single belief to their name.

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32. Blissett - November 16, 2012

The PMB next week could be interesting. SF tabling the following motion ;

That Dáil Éireann:

– Extends its deepest sympathy to the family of Savita Halappanavar and recognises that. news of her death in such tragic and traumatic circumstances has caused distress to people throughout the country and beyond.
– Resolves to await the outcome of the ongoing inquiries into all aspects of this tragedy.
– Acknowledges that the Oireachtas must legislate to give effect to the 1992 judgment of the Supreme Court (the ‘X’ case).
– Further acknowledges that the absence of the required legislation denies women protection and the right to obtain a termination in life- threatening circumstances. It also creates an ambiguous legal situation for clinicians in those same circumstances.
– Regrets that successive governments and Ministers for Health have failed to legislate in this regard.
Calls on the Government to;
– immediately publish the report of the expert group.
– immediately introduce legislation to give effect to the 1992 judgement of the Supreme Court in the ‘X’ case, to protect pregnant women where their lives are in real danger and to give legal certainty to medical professionals.

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33. fergal - November 16, 2012

Isn’t it funny how Desmond O Toole can be so forceful and vehement when defending the Labour party but the same person doesn’t seem to have any force or vehemence when it comes to dealing with the dreadful human consequences of austerity. Fine Gael must love people like him. Instead of using the further left tactically to put pressure on FG,Desmond believes it makes sense to abuse those to Labour’s left…….come to think of it who isn’t anymore?

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LeftAtTheCross - November 16, 2012

It’s also funny how some of those on the further Left spend so much energy on the LP when really it is FG/FF that should be the focus.

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Mark P - November 16, 2012

Why should FG/FF be more of a focus (or even “the focus”) exactly, LATC?

Placing a considerable amount of our emphasis on Labour, the weaker, softer, part of this right wing coalition makes perfect tactical sense.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 16, 2012

Well if you need it spelled out for you Mark P, because they are the class enemy.

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Mark P - November 16, 2012

And that makes them different from Labour how exactly?

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LeftAtTheCross - November 16, 2012

Yeah yeah yeah, off you go.

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Mark P - November 16, 2012

I’m not really surprised that you don’t bother to actually make your case on this, LATC.

You seem to think that it’s enough to assume that Labour are different and that based on that assumption you can then assume that everyone who thinks that Labour is just another capitalist party, albeit an inconsistently more socially liberal one, is an evil sectarian motivated by dogmatism or malice. And that therefore you don’t actually need to justify or explain your point of view.

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LeftAtTheCross - November 16, 2012

It’s all about the evils of self-described social democracy with you isn’t it, whereas those to the further Right of them are in fact the bigger problem. I’m not defending the LP, I’m simply pointing out that FG/FF are the ones driving the political agenda and that’s the real problem not just for the Left but for the working class.

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Mark P - November 16, 2012

No, LATC, it really isn’t all about the “ills of self-described social democracy” with me. I have room for a lot of hate in my heart, let me assure you, and I certainly don’t use it all up on Labour. I am hostile to all of the capitalist parties, pretty much indiscriminately.

But Labour represent both a tactical problem for leftists in Ireland and a tactical opportunity, and for that reason, it often makes sense to concentrate much of our fire there. Not always. It’s not some point of principle. But at the moment, Labour are in government and on many issues represent the weak link in that government.

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WorldbyStorm - November 16, 2012

But there’s an obvious logical problem with your analysis Mark P. If the LP is the weak link what follows them. It won’t be the left, it’ll be some combination of right and right ie FF and FG or someone else.

I don’t see how that improves the situation. Because truth is the further left is simply too small, too atomised, too detached from the actual struggles of ordinary people to move into the vacuum. Most people in this state, even now after five years of economic disaster still cleave to capitalist orthodoxy. I see no significant change from that. At best what I think might happen is that SF would take up the slack plus assorted independents.

Again, that doesn’t necessarily improve the situation because the right remains dominant. That doesn’t seem to me to offer an ‘opportunity’.

EDIT: not ‘most people’ rather ‘the overwhelming majority’

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Jolly Red Giant - November 16, 2012

WbS – both you and LATC are completely missing the point. A FF/FG coalition would be no different from the current one – its tweedledum and tweedledee. The logic of your argument is that we should ignore the LP and concentrate on FG – however FG is significantly stronger than the LP has a base among a sectio of society that back austerity and will be far more difficult to dislodge.

If this government is brought down and prevented from implementing its austerity programme it will be a major victory for the working class. The way to bring this government down is to break the LP. The LP is by far, significantly weaker than FG, significantly more vulnerable and hasa support base that would be far more likely to shift to the left in an effort to fight austerity. Mark P is absolutely right – at this point in time focussing on the LP is absolutely the correct strategy.

Last point – WbS you state “Because truth is the further left is simply too small, too atomised, too detached from the actual struggles of ordinary people to move into the vacuum.” – this, bluntly, is absolute claptrap. The ‘further left’ are not detatched from the struggles of ordinary people – they are an integral part of these struggles. The ‘further left’ initiated and drove the CAHWT, the ‘further left’ initiated and are now driving the campaign for abortion rights in the aftermath of the tragic death of Savita – the ‘further left’ have initiated and driven campaigns on cuts in home help hours, cuts in special needs education, hospital cuts etc and have been to the fore in building support for every occupation and industrial dispute over the past 18 months. My advice – time to get away from the computer.

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Mark P - November 16, 2012

I agree with JRG above, although I think that his last line was a bit unnecessary.

The notion that the socialist left are “detached” from the “actual struggles of ordinary people” is nonsense.

The idea that we are too small and weak to replace the government on the other hand is self-evidently true and nobody is suggesting otherwise. WbS is absolutely correct that the next government, should this one be brought down, will almost certainly be some other combination of FF, FG, Lab, and I’d add Sinn Fein. And that government will be another austerity coalition, no matter which of them it contains. But that’s true no matter what tack we take. There is no magic strategy which would bring the socialist left to power in the short term, regardless of where we focus our fire. Saying, well even if that happens you still won’t be in the next government, is true, but it’s also a statement of the obvious that could be applied to just about any strategy you care to mention.

Breaking this coalition, something that’s most likely as a result of breaking the Labour Party, whether it’s over austerity or over abortion, would represent a step forward. It would help in terms of wider levels of confidence and struggle. It would most likely present us with another pro-austerity anti-abortion rights government, but a weaker one.

There’s a fundamental difference of perspective here, I suspect. Between people who see “progress” as being mostly determined by which parties are in power and those who think that whoever is in power over the next period is going to be an enemy and who view “progress” in terms of working class confidence and extra-parliamentary struggle.

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WorldbyStorm - November 16, 2012

WbS – both you and LATC are completely missing the point. A FF/FG coalition would be no different from the current one – its tweedledum and tweedledee. The logic of your argument is that we should ignore the LP and concentrate on FG – however FG is significantly stronger than the LP has a base among a sectio of society that back austerity and will be far more difficult to dislodge.

I’m not saying any such thing. I’m suggesting that the real political problem in this state is the hegemony of right wing orthodoxy. The LP is a small party in general terms with a vote that is transitory. Replace them, and by the way it won’t be the ULA who do that but SF, and you still have to face up to the reality of that hegemony.

If this government is brought down and prevented from implementing its austerity programme it will be a major victory for the working class. The way to bring this government down is to break the LP. The LP is by far, significantly weaker than FG, significantly more vulnerable and hasa support base that would be far more likely to shift to the left in an effort to fight austerity. Mark P is absolutely right – at this point in time focussing on the LP is absolutely the correct strategy.
It actually won’t be in the sense you think because there’s alternatives for FG. They can govern even without the LP at a pinch now and in any future situation with FF or more right independents. Moreover even now the LP vote is still significantly above it’s average for the past twenty years. They could go sub 10 per cent and still return their usual average number of TDs. I’m not saying this from any love of the LP, but simply to point out a few facts.

Last point – WbS you state “Because truth is the further left is simply too small, too atomised, too detached from the actual struggles of ordinary people to move into the vacuum.” – this, bluntly, is absolute claptrap. The ‘further left’ are not detatched from the struggles of ordinary people – they are an integral part of these struggles. The ‘further left’ initiated and drove the CAHWT, the ‘further left’ initiated and are now driving the campaign for abortion rights in the aftermath of the tragic death of Savita – the ‘further left’ have initiated and driven campaigns on cuts in home help hours, cuts in special needs education, hospital cuts etc and have been to the fore in building support for every occupation and industrial dispute over the past 18 months. My advice – time to get away from the computer.
JRG, you have a most tiresome approach to engagements on the internet, one where you make off the cuff insulting assumptions and statements about others. You have literally no idea what I do in my own community so perhaps you might desist from making any observation about what I do or don’t do.
As for the various campaigns, I’m not denying they exist and in terms of the CAHWT I’m involved in same, but they have nothing like the weight you seem to afford them. The CAHWT has on the ground where I live in the north inner city faded away radically over the past six months from a high point at the FG ard fheis. Perhaps it will rise again on foot of the property tax, or perhaps it won’t, but it’s not looking too healthy from ground level (and that’s before we discuss problematics such as the fact because of the concentration on residential property owners it doesn’t encompass the totality of the community etc, etc).
More importantly none of these have the strength or focus to ‘break’ the government at least as they stand at the moment. And most importantly I see no evidence that involvement in the campaigns is transferring into support for the furtter left. Indeed a cold analysis of the current situation suggests that at the next election the further left is likely to lose seats rather than gain them (RBBs looks near impossible to hold, JC’s could be dodgy and so on and so forth).

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WorldbyStorm - November 16, 2012

There’s a fundamental difference of perspective here, I suspect. Between people who see “progress” as being mostly determined by which parties are in power and those who think that whoever is in power over the next period is going to be an enemy and who view “progress” in terms of working class confidence and extra-parliamentary struggle.

Confidence won’t feed my children, to paraphrase. And extra-parliamentary struggle has so far seen only one significant victory [during the crisis], and that was on behalf of pensioners.

But let me ask you Mark P, how long do you intend to live?

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Mark P - November 16, 2012

Far be it from me to adopt a position as a voice of moderation, but there’s an interesting argument to be had here if we can avoid giving and taking unnecessary offense.

“The CAHWT has on the ground where I live in the north inner city faded away radically over the past six months from a high point at the FG ard fheis. Perhaps it will rise again on foot of the property tax, or perhaps it won’t, but it’s not looking too healthy from ground level”

This, I think, misunderstands the nature of non-payment campaigns in an important way. They are generally reactive in nature, and ebb and flow in terms of the scale of activity with government actions. At the moment, the Household Charge has long since been due, people have either not paid or paid and the government has yet to make a serious attempt to force the issue. It’s entirely unsurprising to people who’ve followed previous non-payment campaigns here and abroad that the pace of activity isn’t as frenetic as it was when the bills were going out. However, we know for certain that the government will not simply let the issue lie and will be back with (in an order yet to be determined) things like summonses, Property Tax demands, Water Tax demands, etc. And it is absolutely guaranteed that the campaigns will kick into much higher gear again, and on a scale not yet seen as these new charges will be much higher.

And most importantly I see no evidence that involvement in the campaigns is transferring into support for the furtter left. Indeed a cold analysis of the current situation suggests that at the next election the further left is likely to lose seats rather than gain them

The socialist left is recruiting to its ideas and organisations out of these campaigns, and in some cases they will very likely lead to higher votes. They aren’t going to lead to the election of a government of the socialist left, that’s certainly true. But we don’t expect them to.

You are imposing a parliamentarist framework on our approach which is alien to the thinking of the people you are arguing with. Our aim is to ignite working class struggle and other oppositional social movements, to further those movements and help them to reach their goals. For us parliamentary seats are a tool to be used to those ends, not the ends we want those struggles to lead to.

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Mark P - November 16, 2012

“Confidence won’t feed my children, to paraphrase.”

And which of the mainstream parties take part in whatever coalition in whatever combination won’t make a blind bit of difference to your ability to feed your children, because all of them are simply going to act as local agents of the IMF/EU.

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revolutionaryprogramme - November 16, 2012

Mark, I look forward to seeing the SP support initiatives to strengthen the delegate based structures of the CAHWT and self-organisation of working class communities…

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Mark P - November 16, 2012

RP: I have zero interest in the obsessional messing about with process and structures which a few people in the CAHWT have. I simply don’t give a shit either way about delegate structures, I just want the campaign to involve as many people as possible and be as effective as possible.

WbS: I agree, by the way, that extra-parliamentary struggle has so far produced few victories (which is still more than parliamentary arguments have brought). That’s why confidence is important, and why the role of the union bureaucrats in demobilising and demoralising people has been so destructive, not to mention the longer term effect of partnership in hollowing out union structures and changing the relationship between union members and their unions.

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revolutionaryprogramme - November 16, 2012

So I guess that will be a no then…

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WorldbyStorm - November 16, 2012

This, I think, misunderstands the nature of non-payment campaigns in an important way. They are generally reactive in nature, and ebb and flow in terms of the scale of activity with government actions. At the moment, the Household Charge has long since been due, people have either not paid or paid and the government has yet to make a serious attempt to force the issue. It’s entirely unsurprising to people who’ve followed previous non-payment campaigns here and abroad that the pace of activity isn’t as frenetic as it was when the bills were going out. However, we know for certain that the government will not simply let the issue lie and will be back with (in an order yet to be determined) things like summonses, Property Tax demands, Water Tax demands, etc. And it is absolutely guaranteed that the campaigns will kick into much higher gear again, and on a scale not yet seen as these new charges will be much higher.

That’s a bit of an evasion. I point out that the campaign has lost momentum on the ground and the answer is that that’s the way campaigns go.
But the logic of your analysis there suggests that if the issue can be resolved or compromised by the government to some degree acceptable to the vast bulk of residential property owners then that will be that. It won’t just ebb, it will vanish. And already the government can point to 50 per cent and perhaps more who have made their peace with the charge. That again doesn’t suggest that the campaign for all it worth is going to have a great longevity.

You and I both know that in the last week or two the letters have gone out to non-payers. One would have thought that at that point the campaigns would be well back in gear. More over I know of people who in the interim, who were linked to the campaigns, who have paid the charges. Now fair enough, next stop the property taxes, but that’s still a while away and that will be – I suspect – a different sort of battle because the government will do its damnedest to put a patina of fairness on it.

Again, I’m not saying this because I disagree with the campaign but because your position seems enormously optimistic.

One other thought. JRG mentioned how the further left was embedded in the campaigns and this was evidence of its attachment to the working class and communities, but look again at who goes to campaign events, who is active in them, and so on and so forth. All laudable, but the vast bulk of communities aren’t. And that’s true for every campaign we can mention.

The socialist left is recruiting to its ideas and organisations out of these campaigns, and in some cases they will very likely lead to higher votes. They aren’t going to lead to the election of a government of the socialist left, that’s certainly true. But we don’t expect them to.
You are imposing a parliamentarist framework on our approach which is alien to the thinking of the people you are arguing with. Our aim is to ignite working class struggle and other oppositional social movements, to further those movements and help them to reach their goals. For us parliamentary seats are a tool to be used to those ends, not the ends we want those struggles to lead to.

No I’m not. I’m not imposing anything at all on the left in my argument – though it’s telling that you should think of it in those rather solipsistic terms. I’m trying to point to the fact that the working class itself overwhelmingly affords legitimacy to the parliamentary process and to representation at that and local level. I’m also pointing out that there is a strong chance that in the near future the further left will lose seats rather than gain them.
Nor is it clear where the centres for extra parliamentary and oppositional movements to develop and how any legitimacy will be afforded to them. I mean it’s not as if the state will simply walk away and cede legitimacy to extra parliamentary centres, and more importantly I see no evidence that the working class would buy into them in any serious way.
I also think it improbable in the extreme that it would be possible for the ‘socialist left’ to impose its will on the state from any such position – even should one exist.

But all that aside whatever one’s thoughts about parliamentary activity, and I’m perhaps only slightly less sceptical about it than you, it is a symptom of progress if not the be all and end all of progress in itself and in that respect it seems to me pointless to dismiss it.

And which of the mainstream parties take part in whatever coalition in whatever combination won’t make a blind bit of difference to your ability to feed your children, because all of them are simply going to act as local agents of the IMF/EU.
But we’re not talking about the mainstream parties. You were the one who mentioned ‘working class confidence’. How does that overcome the primacy of those mainstream parties?

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dmfod - November 17, 2012

WbS you said “JRG mentioned how the further left was embedded in the campaigns and this was evidence of its attachment to the working class and communities, but look again at who goes to campaign events, who is active in them, and so on and so forth. All laudable, but the vast bulk of communities aren’t. And that’s true for every campaign we can mention.” – I really think that’s a bit unfair. What working class activities are there going on that the far left is not involved in that it should be involved in? or if there aren’t any, are you saying far left groups should create them, because that’s basically what happened with the CAHWT.

On the other point about there being a right wing consensus/hegemony in society – I completely agree that this is a huge problem, but again I don’t see what you would have far left groups do about it beyond what they are already doing in organising, or at least playing a big role in helping organise, what little resistance has occurred in Ireland to date.

A small number of groups and activists cannot be expected to overcome this right wing hegemony on their own, and I really don’t see why you are blaming the far left for its existence, rather than all the groups who used to be left but aren’t anymore – like the Labour party, most trade unions etc.

It’s like you think that attacking the Labour party in some way undermines the broader pool of leftwing ideas in society, beyond the far left, whereas I don’t think it does – in fact the Labour party everyday contribute to the evisceration of what people understand ‘left wing’ to mean by posing as left and advocating cuts to child benefit and flat taxes as a form of ‘fairness’. To me defending left wing ideas means helping to clearly define what is left wing and isn’t and the Labour Party is a clear obstacle to that.

I read an interesting article a while back by Philip Cerny I think (not a Marxist at all btw) which said mainstream politics has been so far shifted to the right by neoliberalism that all mainstream parties are now neoliberal, and that the mainstream political spectrum now goes from ‘left’ neoliberalism to ‘right’ neoliberalism.

But that isn’t a left-right spectrum in any meaningful sense, as a left neoliberal is still a neoliberal i.e. a right-winger. So, as has happened with our Labour Party the mainstream political spectrum shifts so far to the right that that even being on the left of it means you are right wing and have no claim to being on the left anymore. That’s I think why Mark P is always sticking the boot into Labour because their pretensions to being left wing are an insult to everything being left-wing actually means and discredits the whole idea of left-wing politics.

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WorldbyStorm - November 17, 2012

Not ignoring, you but trying to get a response shaped where I can get a free moment between the events of the day.

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WorldbyStorm - November 18, 2012

WbS you said “JRG mentioned how the further left was embedded in the campaigns and this was evidence of its attachment to the working class and communities, but look again at who goes to campaign events, who is active in them, and so on and so forth. All laudable, but the vast bulk of communities aren’t. And that’s true for every campaign we can mention.” – I really think that’s a bit unfair. What working class activities are there going on that the far left is not involved in that it should be involved in? or if there aren’t any, are you saying far left groups should create them, because that’s basically what happened with the CAHWT.
I don’t think it’s unfair. It’s simply an observation and a logical one at that – and given that I consider myself further left, at least in a republican socialist sense then I’m including myself in this. The further left is visible in homeopathic levels in daily community life in general, schools, shops, etc. It only manifests itself at campaigns and even then patchily. This isn’t a criticism, it’s merely a funciton of the fact that there are so few further leftists in this society. What was our estimate over the summer, perhaps a few thousand activists, and a halo of sympathisers beyond them. My point is that in daily life any working class person could go for weeks without any encounter with the further left (now to some extent the same is true of the right wing parties – though FF would be an exception). Last weekend I went to various shopping centres across the northside of Dublin trying to get something. I saw one poster in Dunnes in Northside for the CAHWT. That was the sum total of evidence outside of lamppost posters of activity at a time when – as noted previously letters are going out to householders.
Of course the further left involves itself in campaigns, and that’s laudable – as I noted above, but the campaigns of their nature are focused on specific concerns. Even the CAHWT doesn’t touch huge numbers because they don’t own property and don’t feel the pull of it. Carers, etc campaigns have less coverage.
And naturally because there’s no mass leftism there’s no mass permeation of the working class.
It is vital that there is engagement by the left in these campaigns, but I wonder are there other ways it should be trying to build presence in the working class.

On the other point about there being a right wing consensus/hegemony in society – I completely agree that this is a huge problem, but again I don’t see what you would have far left groups do about it beyond what they are already doing in organising, or at least playing a big role in helping organise, what little resistance has occurred in Ireland to date.
A small number of groups and activists cannot be expected to overcome this right wing hegemony on their own, and I really don’t see why you are blaming the far left for its existence, rather than all the groups who used to be left but aren’t anymore – like the Labour party, most trade unions etc.

I’m certainly not blaming the further left for the existence of a hegemony, and I’m unsure as to how you take that from my comments. It is what it is, the product or legacy of societies that moved from elite conservatism over centuries [feudal to capitalist and then advanced capitalist] to diffuse somewhat more democratic states but where class power remained focussed on those elites, or their newest manifestations. Inevitably the left would be on the back foot now and for quite some time in such a context. I’m not certain that it’s the fault of the LP or the trade unions that that hegemony exists. I can’t think of a single state in Europe where we’ve seen an opposite dynamic. In every instance there’s been a push to the right under globalisation and neo-liberalism, and perhaps excepting Greece (or perhaps not) legitimacy has not been removed by citizens to the structures of the state.

It’s like you think that attacking the Labour party in some way undermines the broader pool of leftwing ideas in society, beyond the far left, whereas I don’t think it does – in fact the Labour party everyday contribute to the evisceration of what people understand ‘left wing’ to mean by posing as left and advocating cuts to child benefit and flat taxes as a form of ‘fairness’. To me defending left wing ideas means helping to clearly define what is left wing and isn’t and the Labour Party is a clear obstacle to that.
Perhaps it is that for me and LATC the LP doesn’t seem to matter in the way that it does for you and JRG and Mark P. We’re simply not that exercised by it. That could likely be an historical thing on our part. Any party left of Labour is going to have to stand on its own feet and not in relation to the LP. I think back to my WP days and I can’t for the life of me recall such an obsession with the LP. It was there, it was a rival but in Kilbarrack, Artane, Coolock, Darndale etc we regarded FF as much more our direct adversary – and often precisely because it was in a position to dispense largesse in the shape of housing etc, etc.

Again, it’s a bit like the abortion debate. To me and LATC the LP is not in itself the problem (though it hasn’t helped as much as it should or could), it’s the fact that in the Dáil there is a solid bloc of TDs who are socially conservative and against abortion in almost all cases. They’re the one’s whose opinions have to be changed. And I think to me and others it is the same as regards socio-economic issues more generally. This is one reason the ULA appeared initially to offer a way past this by focusing on itself and the challenges that are extant more generally rather than getting hung up on the LP or SF.
Perhaps what I’m getting at overall is that it is essential to be clear about the real position of the further left in the society, the scale of the challenges ahead of us, just how long it will take (if ever) to change things for the better and so on and who and what constitutes the enemy and what is merely a diversion. And one further thought. It’s not as if that couple of thousand further left activists of one form or another are an homogenous mass. Far from it, the multiplicity of programmes and approaches means that they’re not even acting in concert. The CAHWT is a perfect example of that. Indeed there’s an argument that they cannot, given the nature of the struggles faced and the nature of the organisations themselves, act in concert.

I read an interesting article a while back by Philip Cerny I think (not a Marxist at all btw) which said mainstream politics has been so far shifted to the right by neoliberalism that all mainstream parties are now neoliberal, and that the mainstream political spectrum now goes from ‘left’ neoliberalism to ‘right’ neoliberalism.
But that isn’t a left-right spectrum in any meaningful sense, as a left neoliberal is still a neoliberal i.e. a right-winger. So, as has happened with our Labour Party the mainstream political spectrum shifts so far to the right that that even being on the left of it means you are right wing and have no claim to being on the left anymore. That’s I think why Mark P is always sticking the boot into Labour because their pretensions to being left wing are an insult to everything being left-wing actually means and discredits the whole idea of left-wing politics.

Who cares about them in those terms? I mean really? Right wing social democracy has hardly changed that much over the years. In the 1970s and 80s in Britain long before neo-liberalism was defined as such right wing social democrats were right wing. Same in the Irish LP in the 60/70s etc. Indeed Niamh Purseil’s research on the LP would make one wonder whether it was ever that left wing at any period in its existence (and she has a wonderfully scathing piece in the centenary of Labour book published recently which makes that very point). So I guess I don’t see it as shifting rightwards because it was never particularly left wing -whatever about many people within it.

But seeing as we’ve mentioned Mark P there’s one curious paradox, or is it a contradiction, in his points earlier in this thread where when I raise both the issue of fading campaigns and the possibility of the further left losing seats the response is that the first ebb and flow (well yes, and they also die, as we all know) and the second isn’t an issue becuase ‘the socialist left’ works outside a parliamentarist framework. But if that’s the case then why again the focus on the LP which isn’t involved in the first bar a few credible individuals here and there and in the second is from what he and others have said is a hollow shell focused on parliament. What again is the issue here?
But to be honest I think it’s a bit of a crock. Again, no one disputes campaigns are essential, but state power is exercised by those in power in the state and that requires a parliamentary route as well as a campaigning one). If it is the latter then clearly parliamentary activity is important, otherwise why try to supplant the LP? [though there are other oddities, I’ve met more ordinary active trade unionists who are FFers than I have LPers. That too seem to tell a tale to me].

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dmfod - November 19, 2012

@WbS just too quick points – you say ‘I wonder are there other ways it should be trying to build presence in the working class’ – what do you suggest? any new ideas would be appreciated ;) but I don’t see the point in bemoaning that the further left aren’t trying other ways of developing a presence if you can’t think of any yourself.

On society/mainstream political parties moving to the right – I think you contradict yourself there a bit as first you say all societies across Europe have shifted to the right due to neoliberalism and globalisation, but then you say the Labour party hasn’t got noticeably more right wing and has always been as right wing as it is now.

I don’t think that’s in any way tenable and it’s precisely because of that wider shift to neoliberalism that the LP, like all the other social democratic parties ,is not in any way left wing anymore, when a few decades ago it did have some actually left wing policies, as well as an organised left, and a good portion of it was in the WP/DL. Do you honestly think the Labour party now isn’t to the right of the Workers Party/DL?

Also, the reason the LP came up in the first place was because your article highlighted ‘the supine attitude of many in the LP’ on this issue, prompting an angry response from D’O’Toole – and not because other people on here brought them up!!

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WorldbyStorm - November 19, 2012

Even were I unable to put forward one new idea I’m fairly sure that that would not in the slightest bit invalidate my critique. But I have to admit that I look at progressive forces in Greece and see how they are beginning to fill in the gaps as the state contracts in health. The far right there is doing something not entirely dissimilar in terms of security, which is of course noxious in the extreme, but given how in terms of popularity only a few years ago they were marginal it does suggest that it is possible even in contemporary societies for political forces to exercise a level of influence that might have hitherto been unthinkable. That sort of presence in the community might be something to think of for further down the line, one that moves beyond transitory campaigns and onto a different level (none of which is to argue against both solidarity and campaigning work where necessary and appropriate). Again, I’m not bemoaning, I’m trying to get at what is problematic. And in fairness Mark P only this weekend said the following about the ULA which in part – albeit in different language and focused on a slightly different aspect – underlines my point entirely.

But the notion that there were substantial numbers of people out there who were about to join and get actively involved in the ULA but decided not to because it hadn’t adopted a party form is ludicrous. It is magical thinking. It relies on the assumption that there are loads of hidden activists out there who are looking for a new working class party but hate the idea of an alliance short of a party so much that they didn’t get involved at all.
There aren’t. These are imaginary armies.

If there are only a small number of activists, and there are no hidden activists, then logically it seems likely that not that many potential supporters above and beyyond those already in play are going to suddenly appear, or at least not in any great number – why would they be attracted over and above activists, so surely nothing I’ve said is that contentious.

re Ireland and neo-liberalism. I’m not sure that is quite the contradiction you appear to see there. Firstly Ireland has been in the last hundred and fifty years, at least, a profoundly conservative society, it’s hardly news that our polity was considered to be more right wing in general terms, both economic and social, than the mainstream of Europe across the period from Independence. In social democratic terms our provision of health services, education, social welfare has always been much much patchier and contingent than elsewhere (though ironically with the advent of programmes like DEIS, the abolition of third level fees, increase in pension provision, etc, some progress was actually made in the last decade and a half).

And therefore I think there’s been something of a convergence, with Ireland moving much less – if at all perhaps – than much more social democratically inflected societies. What’s striking to me is how little neo-liberalism impacted until the crisis, in large part admittedly because economic boom masked that development. But I’ve argued previously on the CLR that Ireland is in some ways more like the US, an outrider for developments that would then take place elsewhere – a thinner state and state provision, privatisation, and lack of state endeavour, etcetera.

Of course the LP today is to the right of the WP and DL. It was always to the right of the WP then and now. DL is a slightly different creature, but arguably the LP was always to its right too (even though when many/most of its members arrived in the LP they appear to have transitioned rightwards fairly sharpish – somthing Niamh Purséil notes). Indeed I can’t think of a time historically predating say the WP that the LP was ever in a position to the left of it. Even at its most leftwards (perhaps a few years in the very early 1970s the LP was rhetorically leftwing), but this was never actuated in any meaningful sense.
For me the LP has always been the party I wouldn’t join precisely because in the 1940s, 50s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s at every opportunity it could it joined Fine Gael in government. And it wasn’t just right of the WP and DL. The LP in continental social democratic terms was always further to the right – perhaps on some levels much much further to the right – than its fraternal allied parties elsewhere in Europe. To argue that it was functionally ‘left wing’ at some point is highly disputable. Again, Niamh Purséil amongst others has very convincingly analysed its history and there’s little to suggest otherwise. Which tied in with the point about the polity and economy being more right ward means that in the context of the Irish polity/economy the LP was hardly less noticeably right tilting (using some yardsticks) than it is today.

Absolutely agree I brought it up in the first place. I have no problem criticising and critiquing the LP when it doesn’t live up to its own rhetoric, as D O’Toole has so eloquently demonstrated for our benefit.

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CL - November 17, 2012

‘all mainstream parties are now neoliberal’. There is little understanding among the left how and why the sustained political and ideological offensive of neoliberalism has been such a success.

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34. sonofstan - November 16, 2012

Well I’m sure Mark will be along in a minute, but i guess part of the answer is that Labour has always acted as the co-dependent in an abusive relationship with that agenda, imagining they are curbing its worst excesses, while actually enabling the same excesses by removing the one possible site of resistance, instead of walking out.

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35. maddurdu - November 16, 2012

Good use being made of ‘The Gathering’ postcards being distributed by the government here;

https://www.facebook.com/PostcardsForSavita?ref=stream

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36. sonofstan - November 16, 2012

Got a nice email from one of our local TDs this afternoon, assuring me that he is ‘pondering deeply’ about all this. Good to know. Pondering is what we need more of here.

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maddurdu - November 16, 2012

Got this from Thomas Pringle

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Ed - November 16, 2012

In fairness to Pringle, I think it was mentioned on CLR a while back that there was a council vote in Donegal on legislating for the X case; while the SF councillors abstained, Pringle’s substitute on the council voted in favour. So if that was the case, presumably he would have voted for Daly’s motion too.

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Wendy Lyon - November 16, 2012

I think that was a motion opposing any legalisation of abortion, wasn’t it?

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maddurdu - November 16, 2012

http://www.oceanfm.ie/sp/article_manager/detail/donegal_co_co_oppose_abortion

Campbell is Pringles substitute. I guess he was the sole vote against it.

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Ed - November 16, 2012

Was that it? Can’t remember all the details, but I remember it being pointed out here that Pringle’s sub had come down on the right side of the motion, whatever that was, but the SF cllrs avoided taking a stand.

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37. Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - November 16, 2012

Unless I’m blind I can’t see any statement from Eirigi on their website. I know Mary Lou has been vocal but I see nothing on the AP/RN site either.

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38. greengoddess2 - November 17, 2012

It would appear that the hard liners in FG are ” softening” there position… Due to a crisis of conscience or reflection. Hmmmm.

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39. sonofstan - November 17, 2012

After yesterday, where are we?

There is a clear and present danger for us here that has not really been addressed yet, both in this thread and in the wider debate. It is this: while it is at least arguable that, had legislation been enacted to give effect to the Supreme Court judgment in the X case, then what happened to Savita might have been prevented. The medical personnel involved would have understood that, in a situation such as this, they could proceed with a termination in order to save her life without fear of the law. It is therefore entirely justifiable to argue for such legislation in order to prevent such a thing happening again. All well and good.

However, the situation after such legislation would remain the same in one crucial aspect: the person or persons making the decision as to the necessity of such a termination would not include the only person entitled to make such a decision – the woman in question. It might be the case that, after such legislation, a doctor would still hesitate between the magical thinking that endows a foetus with competing rights that may supervene on those of a fully grown and self- conscious human and the rights of the mother – and the mother still couldn’t do a damn thing about it. Her body would remain a legal and medical battleground, and her wishes regarding her own body would still have no standing.

And that, as most of us here would, I think agree, is not good enough. And yet, tomorrow, that is what we will be holding up banners asking for – instead of asking for what is really required: free and legal abortion ‘on demand’. Not available only in cases of rape, or of a medical danger to the mother, or where there is a risk of suicide, but because it is what a woman decides she wants in her circumstances. Such a thing would, of course, have prevented X and A,B,C and D and the grotesque events in Galway last month, but that’s almost not the point – the point is that any woman who is pregnant and doesn’t want to be should have ownership of her body.

And this is where the accusation of bad faith by the other side has some purchase: because, being honest, when most of us heard the news this week, alongside the shock and disgust, we probably also felt that here, finally, was the case that would move us forward – because, whether consciously or not, we think that legislation for X will be the beginning of a process, not the end. What I think will actually happen is that the govt. will in some cack-handed way give effect to that judgment, but it will be presented – and will in fact be – a copper-fastening of the situation as it stands: abortion will remain illegal on this Island. It will be the case that in certain, very particular circumstances, a termination will be permitted, but in the literal sense, such events will be the exceptions that prove the rule – because if abortion was legal in this country, then such ‘exceptions’ would be dealt with routinely, within a framework of a sane law that recognised the right of a woman to decide what was to happen to her womb.

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revolutionaryprogramme - November 17, 2012

I think sonofstan hits the nail exactly on the head – there is a real danger that there may be some limited legislation on the x-case and that is seen as being the end of the matter when in fact it will change very little for most women, as I argued on my blog (https://revolutionaryprogramme.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/legal-certainty-legislation-on-the-x-case-or-womens-right-to-choose/) we must move the debate to the question of who decides – the question of a women’s right to choose.

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WorldbyStorm - November 17, 2012

I think that’s a very fair assessment SOS and I’d certainly be concerned if the issue were parked in a legislative cul-de-sac for the next twenty years. I’d just be unsure how it is possible to move to the most optimal position from here.

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dmfod - November 17, 2012

Completely agree – if X is implemented, the woman only gets to ‘choose’ when her life is deemed by someone else to be under threat and she has absolutely no say in deciding when that is.

As most women will not ‘choose’ to refuse lifesaving treatment when offered it, because they are not suicidal, the real choice is effectively with the doctor, not the woman. Basically, this means the only ‘choice’ legislating for X gives women is the choice not to commit suicide. Amazing that this actually constitutes progress for women in Ireland today.

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40. sonofstan - November 17, 2012

Peadar Toibín says he won’t support SF motion calling for legislation to give effect to X and will, instead, vote ‘pro-life’. Time to start Pearse Doherty watch.

And poor old Breda O’Brien feels excluded by us taking control of this issue.

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RosencrantzisDead - November 17, 2012

At least Toibin is honest and forthright about his anti-woman views. This is the nicest thing I can say.

Breda O’Brien’s complaint is surreal. She is, in fact, railing against logic and the need for coherence: she whines that she cannot express her grief at Savita Halapavanar’s because it would appear Mrs. Halapavanar’s death was caused by the policy that Breda O’Brien has supported for the past twenty years. Thus, a genuine expression of grief would force her to criticise the policy, and this logical tyranny is unfair, unchristian, and unconstitutional.

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smiffy - November 17, 2012

O’Brien is typical of the way anti-choicers are reacting to this. In most cases, they’re falling back on the old talking points, Ireland is the safest place in the world to have children etc. (somewhat undermined by recent events), no requirement for legislation (although the medical professionals, apart from the Catholic zealots disagree) and, in her case, the hand-wringing, crocodile tears approach, sharing her pain, how much she cares, completely ignoring the blood on her hands.

The question to put to O’Brien, and others like her, is at what point, in the course of an apparent miscarriage, can a termination of the pregnancy/abortion/induction (they’re all the same thing) be carried out? Let her explain that if there had been no risk to Savita Halapavanar’s life, then under O’Brien’s logic, she should absolutely have had to go through 3 days of intense pain until the foetal heartbeat ceased.

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sonofstan - November 18, 2012

I’m fully convinced that Breda O’Brien, beneath the all that aching compassion is some replicant from the future and the soft maternal exterior covers an infernal metallic shape changer – she is, in fact, the anti-terminator.

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smiffy - November 18, 2012

Apropos of nothing, apparently today is World Remembrance Day for road crash victims (http://www.rte.ie/news/2012/1118/rta-remembrance-day.html).

Breda O’Brien’s complaints resemble those of a drink-driver complaining that they feel excluded from services for those who died in car crashes.

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RosencrantzisDead - November 18, 2012

I was initially going to compare it to Jeffrey Dahmer complaining that he cannot appropriately express his grief over what happened to his victims because everyone is so outraged over the cannibalism.

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41. greengoddess2 - November 18, 2012

The march yesterday was reassuring and even exhilarating . It showed that something is alive in the country and it’s not all full of increasing numbers of FF supporters . ( poll last night ). However it was distressing for Labour members on it. We were with the Labour women banner. A great many of us want a red line here but I noticed the few Tds there had the same attitude as during the Reilly resignation call by two MEPs. ‘If we start a fight with FG we won’t get what we want with budget. They might bare teeth and come after us, ‘ etc. a pattern like this shows that a singular motive lies beneath…..
In the meantime red lines need a timeline and a specific action.what should it be? There is no supposedly economic reason in this area , except the ” government will collapse and leave nasty fg in charge”. The whole thing is depressing beyond belief. The three female meps will have to engage with Paul Murphy out in Strasbourg too. My own opinions are go further then those of the Party too, but based on my experience as a clinician more so then other reasons.

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sonofstan - November 18, 2012

Didn’t see the Labour women banner – glad to hear it.

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42. greengoddess2 - November 18, 2012

It was red like the SWP one who shouted at us and things became unpleasant.

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Brendan - November 18, 2012

On mature recollection,i think you’ll find the shame on labour chant was not confined to the swp

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