Author Archive for Alan Gibson


Rebels for Choice Press Release


Response by Cork pro-choice organisation Rebels for Choice to news that 241 women travelled from Cork for abortions in 2016

Spokeswoman Dr Sandra McAvoy said:

Three pieces of news this week make clear how important it is to repeal the 8th Amendment and implement the recommendations of a Citizens’ Assembly that fully understood the issues.

One is news is that, in 2016, a total of 3,265 women who gave addresses in the Republic travelled from Ireland to England and Wales to terminate their pregnancies. 241of them, 9 per cent of the total, gave Cork addresses. We need to end the hypocrisy involved in protecting women’s constitutional freedom to travel while at the same criminalising those who cannot afford to go to England and threatening them with up to 14 years in prison if they end their pregnancies on Irish soil.

Also, a UN Committee has ruled in the second case in a year taken against Ireland by a woman who received a diagnosis of a fatal foetal anomaly and was denied access to a termination. For a second time it has found that our state violated a woman’s rights to privacy, discriminated against her and subjected her to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. That issue is shaping up to be the equivalent to the Magdalene Homes and other abuse scandals and we cannot pretend we have not known about it for a long time. It is time for politicians to act and initiate simple repeal of the 8th Amendment.

It is impossible to legislate for all cases. That is why all major European democracies provide for women to have a right to choose to terminate their pregnancies, up to a certain stage, without having to disclose their reasons. Monday’s news of a young girl who was sectioned when she sought an abortion not only foregrounded the inadequacy of the provisions of the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, it also showed how that legislation may expose women to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by excluding them from decisions about their own bodies and well-being.

Until we repeal the 8th Amendment the shameful list of injustices visited on pregnant people will continue to grow.


Initial thoughts on the British election result

As I write this blog post is seems that Theresa May is going to form a government with support of the DUP.

This will of course be a very weak government especially in the context of the upcoming Brexit negotiations. It is hard to see how May can last very long as Prime Minister given the magnitude of the electoral set-back and her reasoning for the snap election being that securing what she expected to be a massive majority in parliament would have given her a stronger mandate going into Brexit negotiations. The likes of Boris Johnson will be waiting for any mistake or sign of weakness and are ready to make a move for the leadership of the Tories.

The big winners of the election are of course the Labour Party and given what seems to have been a significant majority among younger voters the political momentum is definitely with them.

For revolutionary Marxists the result of the election is something of a double-edged sword. It does represent, or better reflect, a move to the left in British society – engaging with that development among the working class being the reason for giving the Labour Party critical support in the election.

However with the Labour Party being in opposition there is no way to test their claims of having a programme that can really meet the interests of working people. There will be some opportunity to test their commitment to militant class struggle as it is likely this will increase as the working class are emboldened by Labour’s parliamentary success and the Tories weakness. But any such militancy will tend to be seen through the prism of parliamentary democracy and strengthening Labour’s chances in the next election rather than in terms of building working class self-organisation in the form of workers council type formations based on proletarian rather than bourgeois democracy.

There is now a bit of talk on the left (at least on Facebook) about “Blairism” being “dead” in the context of this big vote for the Labour Party.


Actually “Blairism” is merely social democratic reformism taken to the extreme in the context of weak organisation of the working class and related low levels of class consciousness. “Corbynism” is merely a reaction by social democratic reformism to the stirrings of reaction to austerity by the British working class

“Blairism” is not dead.

It is still there as an option within the political DNA of social democracy.

It is just that a more left wing (though still not particularly left wing in a historical context) veneer is now being provided to allow the Labour Party to play its traditional social role of diverting any moves towards militant class struggle into the political dead-end of parliamentarianism.


Protest march – Cork Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment



Photos from Rebels4Choice stall

A good day in-between the showers on Saturday 20 May.


Rebels4Choice press release

Rebels 4 Choice (Cork)

Press Release
Date: Monday 22nd May, 2017

Cork group Rebels 4 Choice calls on Fine Gael Leadership candidates to promise women that they will read the Laffoy Report on the Citizens’ Assembly in full.

Cork group Rebels 4 Choice, one of the member organisations of the national Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment, is calling on Fine Gael leadership candidates Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar to give an undertaking to Irish women that they will read Ms Justice Laffoy’s Report on the deliberations and recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly in full.

Spokeswoman Dr Sandra McAvoy said:

Members of Rebels 4 Choice have found an interesting phenomenon when visiting TDs to talk about repeal of the 8th Amendment. When they ask them if they would intervene to stop a woman they know is going to have an abortion they say ‘No’. When asked if they think she should be punished they say ‘Of course not’, including in cases of young girls who order pills for early abortions and who actually face up to 14 years in prison in Irish law.

This seems to imply that they are pro-choice but have not thought about themselves in that way and perhaps do not have the language and arguments about ethics that Assembly members worked hard over several months to come to grips with.

Rebels 4 Choice calls on Fine Gael leadership candidates Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar to give a lead on one of the most important women’s issues of our generation by promising Irish women that they will read Ms Justice Laffoy’s Report on the deliberations and recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly in full when they are submitted and also that they will recommend that all other Irish politicians do the same, in order to ensure that they are fully informed before the Oireachtas Committee begins its deliberations.

There can be no distancing of politicians from the recommendations of the Assembly if they have not read the report and understood their basis or validity.’


Simple maths and capitalist reporting of the French Presidential election

Driving in to work this morning I heard RTE news describe the election result in the 2nd round run-off of the French Presidential elections as 1/3 voting for Le pen and 2/3 voting for Macron. They went on to talk about how the Macron presidency would have to deal with this 1/3 of the population who had supported policies to his right.

However later they also referred to the 25% who hadn’t voted…

1/3 + 2/3 + 25% = ,,,,

The actual voting figures are as follows (literally took me less than 10 minutes to find this information and work out the real percentages):

Total number of registered voters – 47,448,893

Turnout – 35,407,615 voting = 74.62% of registered voters

Valid votes – 31,340,814 = 88.51% of total votes
Blank or null votes – 4,066,801 = 11.49% of total votes

Marcon – 20,703,694 votes = 66.06% of those who voted
Le Pen – 10,637,120 votes = 33.94% of those who voted

Therefore the % votes from the total population of registered voters was:

Marcon – 44%
Le Pen – 22%
Didn’t vote or spoiled ballot – 34%

Leaving aside the issue of capitalist elections being a very blunt instrument for judging the actual “will of the people” any rational discussion of the election result and what this represents in French society should start from this reality of the actual votes.




Letter to Examiner on recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly

Dr. Rory Maguire ended his letter to the Editor published on 5 May – “It is true that many women face pregnancy in extremely difficult circumstances. However, there is always a better solution than abortion.”

Of course there is a small proviso that he forgot to add which is vitally important – “… in my opinion.”

And this is the real issue. What to do for any women who disagrees with Dr. Maguire’s (or anyone else’s) personal views on abortion? The number of dissenting voices which has been literally thousands of Irish women every year for many decades.

So those, like Dr. Maguire, who want to deny women the right to control their own reproductivity would be left with a few options for these rebellious women who do not agree.

A) Forcing pregnant women to carry the pregnancy to full term – perhaps by locking them up in special institutions we could call “Mother and Baby Homes”?
B) Bringing the full weight of the law to bear with suitably harsh penalties after any abortion had been carried out in Ireland. I wonder if the current penalties of “a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or both” for anyone involved in the carrying out of an abortion in Ireland meets with Dr. Maguire’s approval or whether he and his ilk feels they are an insufficient punishment for these godless women and any men who actively help them.
C) Place travel restrictions on all pregnant women being able to travel overseas just in case that might be for an abortion? Presumably this would also involve mandatory testing of all women of child-bearing age to catch those not showing yet.
D) Or, if able to perform the moral gymnastics involved, continue to turn a blind eye to the thousands of women who are able to travel to have abortions overseas every year while maintaining a draconian prison state for those not able to take this option.

None of these “solutions” should have any place in a society that values women and trusts the choices they make about their own bodies. Unfortunately Ireland does not have a great historical record in this regard – will we take this opportunity to start to put that right?

The recommendations of the Citizen’s Assembly are merely a reflection of the views of the majority of the population living in Ireland. We urgently need a referendum that will repeal the 8th Amendment and then legislation which will put the decisions about pregnancy where it belongs – in the hands of the pregnant woman herself.

Alan Gibson