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Meanwhile back in Dublin South East… January 23, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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In an odd way I’m reminded of the 1970s when reading about Lucinda Creighton, Minister of European Affairs, and how she has proposed an abortion Bill which ‘excludes suicide as grounds for carrying out the procedure’. There’s something, just something, of the Liam Cosgrave about her and his vote against the government of which he was Taoiseach in regard to the ban on importing contraception for married people. The government was defeated.

But then it’s always fascinating to see how social issues cut so markedly across political formations and even ideologies.

The constituency Creighton represents is, to judge by its voting patterns in referendums, one of the most socially liberal in the state. In the 1995 Dissolution of Marriage vote it went Yes with 64.86% to 35.14%. [for full figures on referendums and constituencies you can do little better than go here to environ.ie].

Nine years before that Dublin South East voted 19,107 to 16,464 in favour of the proposal (that’s by my reckoning 53% to 46%]. That has to be put in the context of 63.48% against overall and only 36.52% in favour.

When considering abortion referendums the picture becomes less clear because it’s difficult to reduce the issue to simple yes/no choices given the abstraction of some of the proposals in the past, but as an indication, in 1983 on the eighth amendment of the Constitution the constituency voted 16,814 in favour and 17,292 against. Overall the vote was 66.9 % in favour and 33.10% against.

At the 1992 referendum the votes on the Twelfth amendment which held that the possibility of suicide was not a sufficient threat to justify an abortion were as follows: 10,361 in favour and 20,097 against. The latter position won through with 1,079,297 votes cast against nationally and 572,177 in favour. On the linked vote on the right to travel in light of the prohibition on abortion 27,966 voted for the right and 11,417 against it whereas nationally the vote was 1,035,308 in favour of a right to travel and 624,059 against. The Fourteenth amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech in relation to the distribution of information about abortion services outside Ireland was also approved, with 59.88% to 40.12%. In Dublin South East the vote was 26,557 against 12,573. On votes like the prohibition of the death penalty DSE has comfortably voted on the ‘liberal’ side of the fence. And even at the Twenty-fifth Amendment which sought to further limit abortion provision and where the proposal was not accepted by 50.42% to 49.58% the DSE result was 9,414 in favour and 19,558 against (btw, the highest No vote was in Dun Laoghaire with 68 %, by my calculation DSE came in at 67%).

And not just its referendum results. Consider the list of those who have represented it in the Dáil. One could have grave reservations about their socio-economic approaches while still acknowledging that in general terms Michael McDowell, Frances FitzGerald, Ruairi Quinn, John Gormley and one GFG were unlikely social traditionalists.

All this raises the thought that she is both entirely sincere and swimming against the tide of the constituency. On an issue such as this which has a particularly powerful political aspect it will be interesting to see if the former outweighs the latter. Or will party out? The other alternative is that having made it eminently clear where she stands she will find the government’s proposals sufficient to allow her realign with her party.

Then again, as it stands where will any FG voter go if they’re disenchanted with her stance? Truth is probably nowhere. Still, interesting.

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1. Depps - January 23, 2013

Eoghan Murphy, the constituencies other blueshirt, is also in the anti-abortion camp which seems to rule out any sort of electoral strategising to pick up more of the conservative FG vote vis a vis her biggest competitor for the next GE.

Maybe FG have just perfected the art of attracting the most regressive elements of society into the party

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2. hardcore for nerds - January 23, 2013

How many people make their primary decision on who to vote for based on ‘social issues’ like abortion (if indeed they base it on policy at all)? If a Dublin FG voter disagrees with the candidate’s pro-life stance, they probably still agree with their “socio-economic approach”; and if it’s a choice between FG and Labour, I know there may not appear to be much distinction in practice between their approaches from a Left perspective, I don’t see the economically pro-FG voter being willing to switch just on the basis of the pinkos being less socially conservative. More likely, it’d be useful for FG to retain a traditional older vote… stop them not voting/voting for FF or Inds.

On the other hand, it could develop into the situation like with the Republicans in the US where their social stances are said to be alienating women (except there’s not much of a gender divide on abortion opinion in Ireland, as Creighton illustrates). It’s a problem of having a catch-all right-wing party.

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WorldbyStorm - January 23, 2013

I’ve long wondered how much the influence of US Republican hegemony in the 2000s influenced her generation. A lot it would appear.

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Branno's ultra-left t-shirt - January 23, 2013

I remember her saying she would have voted for McCain in 2008. The Waterford TD John Deasy worked as an intern for the US Republican party.

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WorldbyStorm - January 23, 2013

McCain, a bit liberal for her – no? :)

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3. Irishelectionliterature - January 23, 2013

Whilst dublin south east did have garret fitzgerald as their fg td, they also had joe doyle longtime sacristan at donnybrook church . I doubt too many voters knew either murphy or creightons views on abortion either. Certainly their leaflets and newsletters never mentioned abortion.

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4. 6to5against - January 23, 2013

I recall when Oliver j Flanagan was considered the backward wing of fg, and Garret Fitzgerald the future. How things change.

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WorldbyStorm - January 23, 2013

Yeah, me as well. I thought Varadkers comments about GFG some years back was the real proof of the pudding. GFG was never a leftist, particularly not on economic matters, but if he was too liberal for that crew that says something about how FG has changed.

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5. Is Enda Going Too Far Preventing Those Voting Against Bill From Running As FG Candidates? - Page 2 - July 4, 2013

[…] a very liberal constituency , she is representing herself not the constituency and not the party. Meanwhile back in Dublin South East… | The Cedar Lounge Revolution Sign in or Register Now to […]

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6. Ghandi - July 4, 2013

Leaving aside ones position on the issue, a point which is generally accepted is that the issue of abortion is devisive. The level of pro and anti is a matter of debate. Is it not somewhat disconcerting that for example in my own constituency (DC) all 4 TD’s voted for the legislation and in DCC 5 of the 6 Councillors voted for Tormey’s motion to remove Art.40.3.3.

The none reflection of the view of the citizens on this and other issues is surely undemocratic.

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WorldbyStorm - July 4, 2013

Isn’t it down to those who are selected for election and then elected. I don’t see how one could get around to a ‘more representative’ approach without impacting on the former. Or going for opinion polls as a means of organising represntation in some way? There’s also the point that MOS would in a way be close enough to a very minimal position of abortion provision only in extremis.

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