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The Abortion Bill vote… April 20, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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It almost seems petty to consider who voted and who didn’t on the Abortion Bill this week. But, it’s an exercise with some utility.

First up, consider that ten of the Technical Group, and four of the ULA (out of five), voted for the Bill. Nine of SF’s 14 voted (though Pearse Doherty was at the funeral of his father). Patrick Nulty, who appears to be becoming a one man tribune of a strand of Labour thinking that has now all but vanished also voted for it. I can’t divine any great rural/urban divide in SF, or pro-choice/anti-abortion divide either. TDs who might seem to fit in either camps voted for the Bill.

Of the Technical Group, Stephen Donnelly voted for the Bill, and that great social liberal, Shane Ross? And what of Thomas Pringle? Finian McGrath was missing in action too, as was Tom Fleming – perhaps less unexpectedly.

Now those who voted against. It’s odd to read through the list and see Quinn, Gilmore, White and Ferris and so on and so forth. Not so odd to see the massed ranks of Fine Gael. And not at all odd to see Noel Grealish there. Mattie McGrath, to be entirely fair, pinned his colours to the mask and voted against. No sign of Michael Healy-Rae. But what of Tommy Broughan who voted against?

So, what does this mean. I think smiffy raised an important point for the future when noting that in a way it was no bad thing that the LP had used the whip on its TDs in the sense that further down the line should legislation be forthcoming the same approach can be imposed by the LP to ensure compliance with such legislation.

Still… whether such legislation does appear is a most interesting question, and what of Fine Gael in all this – something that tends to be forgotten in all the concentration on the Labour Party. From watching the debates that did not seem like a party eager to legislate or to support even minimal access to abortion in extremis. And that, not the LP, is the mountain that ultimately has to be climbed. Even had every single LP TD voted for the measure it would still have fallen and we know that not every LP TD would vote for the measure.

Speaking of which, to be frank the most specious arguments of the week came not from those with an avowed anti-abortion belief. Overwhelmingly they were honest about their line even if some of the justifications (as with McGrath) were factually incorrect. Less good can be said about some of those who were clearly unable to work out should they be slightly agin or slightly for even if they voted against. And least good can be said about the supposed radical ‘this does not go far enough’ crew in the LP who ignored entirely the substance of the Bill, the context within which it was produced and the constraints placed upon it by that context.

So, whatever else, an interesting day or two’s work and enormous credit to Daly, Collins and Wallace for their work.

Comments»

1. EamonnCork - April 20, 2012

Wbs, which ULA, SF and TG people didn’t vote for it?
By the way Ming Flanagan’s vote in favour of the bill perhaps gives the lie to people on here who persistently characterise him as some kind of rural conservative in disguise. Roscommon had the highest vote for the pro-life amendment in 1983 so if anyone might suffer electoral consequences from this vote it’s Ming who gets traduced on no grounds other than that some people don’t like the sound of his accent.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

ULA Healy

SF Toibin, Doherty, McLellan, O’Caolain O’Brien.

TG Mattie McG (natch!), Pringle, Ross, Fleming (natch?), Finian McGrath, not sure if anyone else was absent.

EDIT all the above bar Mattie McGrath weren’t present.

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LeftAtTheCross - April 20, 2012

Not at all surprised Toibin didn’t vote for it.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

In fairness we don’t know why he wasn’t there.

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LeftAtTheCross - April 20, 2012

True, but if it was an important issue for him one might imagine he’d make an effort. Word out here locally in Meath is that he’d be on the old-school catholic nationalist end of SF rather than the progressive social democratic end, or however one might dress up that aspect of SF. I don’t know him personally one way or the other so it could be I have the wrong take on him of course. Or maybe not either.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

I’m surprised re the old school nationalist end, given some of his contributions to Dáil debates. From the look of him I thought he’d be a lot less social democratic, though that could well have been my own prejudices showing, but I was pleasantly surprised. Granted though that was on economic issues. I don’t have a clue what his stance is on abortion.

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Mark P - April 20, 2012

I’m assuming here that Seamus wasn’t present rather voting against?

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

Sorry just to be clear. The only person who voted against was Mattie McG. All others listed above weren’t present.

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2. EamonnCork - April 20, 2012

Surprised by Healy and McGrath the Latter.
The SF absentees may say something significant about the contradictions within that particular party. Significant and perhaps not particularly encouraging.

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3. Stephanie Lord - April 20, 2012

“…it was no bad thing that the LP had used the whip on its TDs in the sense that further down the line should legislation be forthcoming the same approach can be imposed by the LP to ensure compliance with such legislation.

I would love to think that this was meaningful but realistically, the LP aren’t going to touch this with a barge pole. Realistically speaking, given how Expert Groups and Commissions etc. operate, if they are *due* to report in the Autumn, they probably won’t come back with anything for at least 6 to 10 months after that date. They might have to get an extension but the Government didn’t even set them up by the original deadline so I wouldn’t think it would be problematic. Then the Report will go the Minister’s office where it might sit for a month, and then it will probably go to the Oireachtas Health Committee where it will sit for another few months. By that stage we’re in to the build-up of Local Election campaigns and nobody in LP is going to want to touch it for the duration of that.

The wheels of Dáil Eireann move very slowly and there’s every possibility that they could string it out until after the next General Election. If they put it in Section C of the Legislative Programme a year or so after the Report is published, it will be heralded as ‘action.’
Clearly there’s no appetite to push it in the LP.In terms of things that people have problems with in the PLP, abortion is probably way down on the list of priorities.

Or maybe after listening to this stuff all week I’m feeling particularly cynical about it.

Anyway, enormous thanks are owed to the TDs who put this together. The fact that they forced a debate on the issue is a major achievement.

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tomasoflatharta - April 20, 2012

“Anyway, enormous thanks are owed to the TDs who put this together. The fact that they forced a debate on the issue is a major achievement.” – that is the key factor for activists. The Dáil debate was supported by Action on X, which mobilised support outside Leinster House and brought the issue to public attention. We can rely only on ourselves, the politics of mass mobilisation – and work harmoniously with the TD’s who introduced the bill – more power to them all.

Plus Plus Plus to Ming Flanagan – as pointed out by EamonnCork above “By the way Ming Flanagan’s vote in favour of the bill perhaps gives the lie to people on here who persistently characterise him as some kind of rural conservative in disguise” –

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0420/1224314970161.html?via=mr

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

+1

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

Stephanie, you and me too re cynicism, and that’s a main reason why I’ve been so sceptical about legislation going through. But , if it does there is a certain moral pressure (though how much use it is is very open to question).

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RosencrantzisDead - April 20, 2012

Considering there has been a Green Paper and an All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution Report on this issue already, there is absolutely no need for a further review. It may be worth asking how much this new review is going to cost, given our straitened financial circumstances. It will be fascinating to see if this new Expert group comes up with proposals that differ from the reports we have already had.

It is worth pointing out that Clare Daly’s bill was broadly in line with the Second Recommendation of the Oireachtas Committee and in line with the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Group (which were made in 1996).

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Mark P - April 20, 2012

I still can’t quite decide if I expect to see the government to move on this issue now.

On the one hand, the kind of approach Stephanie outlines has the grim ring of truth about it, and it would certainly be in keeping with Labour’s 20 year record of cowardice and hypocrisy on the issue. Kicking this particular issue back into the long grass is an ingrained instinct at this point, amongst all the main parties.

On the other hand, Labour really did come under a lot of pressure and quite a lot of the useless liberals amongst their rank and file do actually care about the issue, not to mention the liberal part of their voter base. And they have given a lot of hostages to fortune over the last couple of days, with their TDs practically lining up to swear that they will have their own legislation. There will be consequences if they bottle it again.

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Stephanie Lord - April 20, 2012

I’m not really sure if the LP can cave to moral pressure on it. It certainly puts them in an awkward position when the Expert Group comes back and recommends that (surprise surprise) we need to legislate for X.

The idea that LP members were voting against it because it doesn’t go far enough was nonsense. Ming Flanagan probably did the best job of summing up what was happening when he said;

“…It is a bit like a child being offered three spuds by his mammy at dinner but he wants four or else he will eat nothing. Generally, the child in that position will have no dinner. The Labour Party will end up with no dinner either and get nothing of what it wants. It will end up with the Fine Gael philosophy which is driven by Archbishop McQuaid’s ideas.

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Mark P - April 20, 2012

“The idea that LP members were voting against it because it doesn’t go far enough was nonsense.”

Yes. It was an excuse so transparently false that I’m amazed the weasels could keep straight faces while trotting it out. One of those “they can’t really think that people are stupid enough to buy that, can they?” sort of moments.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

Big time, hence my use of the term ‘specious’ in the original post.

They demonstrated particular bad faith because they know that given the constraints Daly, Collins and Wallace laboured under in terms of the X-case ruling there was little or no room for going further.

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Wendy Lyon - April 20, 2012

Taking the “it didn’t go far enough” claim to its logical conclusion one would have to presume that if the ULA bill had been perfect, Ciara Conway, Anne Ferris and any other Labour TD using this line would have broken the whip and voted for it.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

Interesting to know if they feel entirely comfortable in their stance this week.

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EamonnCork - April 21, 2012

I’d be inclined to agree with Stephanie’s prognosis. The Labour Party will always find an excuse not to deal with this. Once safely removed to the opposition benches they will make the appropriate noises. I don’t know if it’s just me but I found this to be the most sickening thing in the Dail for a long time.
Look at what Ming said about McQuaid, it would be a cool day in Hell before the likes of Gilmore and Howlin would make a comment like that without hedging.
I think it underlined how many putative liberrals actually live in an Ireland of the mind. In this Ireland they’re free to fulminate on the danger to womens rights posed by the victory of a right-wing ‘pro-life’ candidate in the American elections without looking at the political realities of life here.
The next Labour excuse A Prediction: ‘We’re giving the Expert Group report a lot of thought but at the moment the priority is legislation to tackle the economic crisis left to us by Deputy Martin’s colleagues.
(Shouts, laughter).
Gilmore: Perhaps Deputy Daly’s colleagues on the Liverpool Council in the eighties should have done something blah de blah nonsense Militant Tendency repeat until lunchtime.

And, yes, full credit to those who campaigned to at least get this matter heard in the Dail. Their hearts must be broken

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WorldbyStorm - April 21, 2012

Look at what Ming said about McQuaid, it would be a cool day in Hell before the likes of Gilmore and Howlin would make a comment like that without hedging.

+1

TBH he’s increasingly impressive.

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EWI - April 20, 2012

By that stage we’re in to the build-up of Local Election campaigns and nobody in LP is going to want to touch it for the duration of that.

I think this is it exactly. It’s going to be put on the long finger for another decade or two if they can get away with it.

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4. tomasoflatharta - April 20, 2012

Just to show that the issue is getting attention in Mayo, thanks to Michelle Mulherin for her blundering comments : http://www.advertiser.ie/mayo/article/51451/mulherins-fornication-statements-described-as-primitive

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

Great link, thanks.

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tomasoflatharta - April 20, 2012

Sligo Calling :
“Some commentators have remarked that perhaps in Mayo ‘they still believe babies are delivered by the stork or found in cabbage patches’.”

http://www.sligotoday.ie/details.php?id=19712&PHPSESSID=c96fb9376424a4d5b2727ffb99eb69f1

“Irish politician’s comment triggers #fornicationtax”

http://storyful.com/stories/26165

“The Troika would never allow a #fornicationtax considering they’re the ones riding us.”

And Ireland long a province be,
fornication once again….

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

They write themselves those jokes 🙂

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Dr. X - April 20, 2012

One ring to rule them all,

One ring to find them.

One ring to bring them all,

And in the darkness bind them.

In the Count of Mayo where the shadows lie.

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WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

And the Dark Lord being Kenny?

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5. tomasoflatharta - April 20, 2012

Reblogged this on Tomás Ó Flatharta and commented:
“Anyway, enormous thanks are owed to the TDs who put this together. The fact that they forced a debate on the issue is a major achievement.” –
Stephanie Lord.
That is the key factor for activists. The Dáil debate was supported by Action on X, which mobilised support outside Leinster House and brought the issue to public attention. We can rely only on ourselves, the politics of mass mobilisation – and work harmoniously with the TD’s who introduced the bill – more power to them all.

Plus Plus Plus to Ming Flanagan – as pointed out by EamonnCork on the Cedar Lounge discussion “By the way Ming Flanagan’s vote in favour of the bill perhaps gives the lie to people on here who persistently characterise him as some kind of rural conservative in disguise” –

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0420/1224314970161.html?via=mr

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6. WorldbyStorm - April 20, 2012

I’ve removed that comment.

Firstly because it makes assertions about a third party which are entirely out of order.

Secondly because it seeks to use this site to make those assertions.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again no doubt. This site will not tolerate that sort of behaviour. Any infraction will be dealt with immediately it is brought to the attention of mods.

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7. que - April 21, 2012

I am discussing this issue with my wife. We’ve hit a sticking point. The law as is currently seems to indicate that in order to prevent suicide/loss of mother’s life an abortion is legally permitted and from what I can determine the Irish medical council says in such circum. its not unethical to do so.

If thats the position can anyone tell me if there are in ireland medically argued abortions taking place. I assumed there was but I cant find any evidence to back that up.

Any hints on this are appreciated.

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Wendy Lyon - April 21, 2012

When the ABC case was being argued the ECHR tried to get an answer to this question too, but couldn’t do so. The most that the Irish government could provide was figures on the number of pregnant women with conditions that could potentially entitle them to an abortion in Ireland. Whether any of these women actually had abortions – and if so, where – remains a total mystery.

Also, if I’m remembering correctly, the Human Rights Watch report that came out a couple years ago said that their researchers were unable to find evidence of even a single one.

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que - April 21, 2012

go rainh maith agat Wendy. I thought there might be something like that cause of privacy etc but other side of me thinks they just dont do them.

Course in true govt. style it could be a case of dont collect the figures and then you dont have to give them out.

Whatever its not good enough.

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WorldbyStorm - April 22, 2012

+1 que

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