Meanwhile back in Dublin South East… January 23, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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.