No Room for Triumphalism in Repeal Campaign

This week saw members of a Trinity College division of People Before Profit tear down posters regarding a public meeting of a pro-life advocacy group for women impacted by pregnancy from rape called Unbroken Ireland. This incident happened on the same day that the Referendum on the Eighth Amendment was confirmed.

This level of triumphalism, destruction and disregard for opposing views is not in the interests of the Repeal Campaign.

The Repeal Campaign may have many supporters who also campaigned for marriage equality in 2015, but it cannot operate with the same triumphalism as the Mar-Ref campaign.

During the Marriage Equality Campaign, across the country supporters and activists pushed an eternally positive message. A message that would bring no harm or sadness to anyone: but only joy and relief to our fellow citizens of the LGBT community.

Abortion and repealing the Eight Amendment of the Constitution is far more complex than allowing two LGBT people to marry.

Whether your pro-life, pro-choice or somewhere in between you can’t deny that an abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. A pregnancy that could possibly culminate in a human life.

The complexities of the issues arising from repealing the Eighth Amendment have the potential to make the discourse nasty and dangerous.

Many of the Repeal campaigners have thus far carried out their campaign with an air of triumphalism that isn’t acceptable nor in the interest of their movement.

Repeal jumpers are the epitome of this triumphalism. We must raise awareness as to why we must repeal the Eighth Amendment, but rubbing it in people’s faces isn’t the way. Repealing the Eighth Amendment is a divisive issue and one which we must debate with civility. Repeal campaigners can’t afford to shout down the pro-lifers and disregard them as ancient, conservative monsters.

The campaign for the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment is only starting and there is no room for complacency. It’s likely that in the liberal bubble of Dublin the majority will vote to repeal. The rest of the country will be vastly different.

In June 2016, The Journal asked all TDs if they were in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment. Of the 158 TDs only 76 replied. There’s a good reason 82 TDs chose not to reply — because this issue is one which could be very divisive in their constituencies. No TD wants to risk going against their constituents on the issue.

This week we saw the Gibson Hotel in Dublin cancel an event being run by an anti-abortion group called the Life Institute. The referendum hasn’t been announced a week and the campaign is already encroaching on dangerous territory. And could easily turn into a shouting match where whoever shouts the loudest wins.

It is not in the interest of the Repeal Campaign to limit debate. Respecting and debating the views of the pro-life campaigners will be the most effective manner of educating the public on the importance of repealing the Eighth Amendment.