Archive Page 2


Media cover-up over new maternity hospital?

This morning I heard interviews with Dr Rhona Mahony (current Master of the National Maternity Hospital) on Newstalk and then RTE.

The Newstalk interview was basically a platform for Dr Mahony to present her “there is no problem” mantra with effectively no questioning of that at all.

RTE was tougher as Dr Mahony was repeatedly asked “why would a Catholic religious order agree to allow procedures in the new hospital that go against their Catholic ethos?” and “what do they get out of the agreement?”

Dr Mahony largely avoided the questions and had no real answer other than  that we should just trust them on the basis of their assurances given so far.

Given the long history of crimes against Irish women by Catholic religious orders any position based on simply trusting their good intentions or even anything they say in advance is clearly absurd.

There is also an obvious follow-up question by RTE (something the Newstalk anodyne interview was of course never going to ask). That is – “Can you explain why senior figures from the Catholic establishment have explicitly stated in the past few days that Canon Law applies to any institution owned by the Catholic Church?”

Another issue is that for the Catholic Church “medical best practice” for pregnant women (a phrase Dr Mahony repeated gave as the agreed basis for the operation of the new hospital) does not include those women having the right to choose to terminate their pregnancy. Surely Dr Mahony should have been asked – “what will happen in the case of a conflict over what “medical best practice” means – will “Canon Law” and “Catholic ethos” then come into play?”

Perhaps it was simple journalistic incompetence. However given that the basis for my hypothetical follow-up questions are all in the public domain and easily found that does not seem plausible. For instance I have heard many interviews of anti-water charges activists that were much more searching than what Dr Mahony had to cope with this morning.

And if it was not journalistic incompetence what was the reason?












Defend Peter Boylan – no role for “Canon Law” in any maternity hospital


Former master of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH), Dr Peter Boylan, has been asked to resign from the board of NMH.

His supposed crime? Publicly exposing the truth about the deal for the new maternity hospital to be based on the St Vincent’s site.

Under the terms of that deal the Catholic religious order, Sisters of Charity, will be given sole ownership of the new hospital valued at around 300 Million euros.

When this arrangement was made public last week the spokespeople for the NMH board, HSE and the Minister of Health went to great lengths to say that ownership by the Sisters of Charity would have no impact at all in the running of the hospital and all decisions would be made on purely medical grounds.

The following is from an RTE interview on Thursday 20 April where NMH Board Chairman Nicholas Kearns referred to the “reserved powers” which would supposedly prevent any religious interference:

“In effect, the Minister has disclosed the key elements in these reserved powers and I was frankly surprised that people are not reassured by the binding nature of these reserved powers, can I just run through them quickly? Firstly, as one of the main objectives for the agreement it provides that under this arrangement the new company, the hospital in Elm Park, will provide a range of health services in the community as heretofore, such operation and provision to be conducted in accordance with the newly agreed clinical governance arrangements for the National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park by providing as far as possible by whatever manner and means from time to time available for the health happiness and welfare of those accepted as patients without religious or ethnic or other distinction and by supporting the work of all involved in the delivery of care to such patients and their families or guardians including research or investigation which may further such work. Now just very quickly the reserved powers and then I’ll stop.

“The Reserved powers guarantee 1. the clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity gynecology obstetrics and neonatal services without religious ethnic or other distinction in the hospital at Elm Park and the provision of medical, surgical, nursing and midwifery and other health services at Elm Park in accordance with strategic planning in relation to the development of other health services in the future, in accordance with developing best practices and all financial and budgetary matters as they relate to the National Maternity Hospital will remain under their control.”

This has now been exposed as untrue.

The Religious Sisters of Charity will have to obey the rules of the Roman Catholic church if they become owners of the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) in south Dublin, according to the bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran.

“A healthcare organisation bearing the name Catholic, while offering care to all who need it, has a special responsibility . . . to Catholic teachings about the value of human life and the dignity and the ultimate destiny of the human person,” said Doran, who chairs the hierarchy’s committee on bio-ethics.

“Public funding, while it brings with it other legal and moral obligations, does not change that responsibility.”

His statement to The Sunday Times appears to confirm warnings by Peter Boylan, the chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, that the €300m maternity hospital may not provide services such as sterilisation, infertility treatment, gender reassignment surgery and abortion.

Doran’s statement also echoes a warning by Tom Lynch, chairman of the Ireland East Hospital Group, which includes St Vincent’s, that locating the maternity hospital on its campus would raise issues of medical ethics. Lynch told Jim Breslin, secretary-general of the Department of Health, that canon law obliged a hospital on Catholic land to operate by Catholic rules.

The Catholic Church is guilty of crimes against women in Ireland and should have no role at all in the provision of health services.

It is clear that Peter Boylan has committed no crime for his role in helping publicly expose the truth about the motivations of the Catholic Church in seeking sole ownership of the new maternity hospital. Rather than being removed from the board of the NMH he should be commended for having the guts to tell the truth.

Peter Boylan and others are calling for a Compulsory Purchase Order to be applied to the site for the new maternity hospital. I would support that but do not believe it goes far enough.

ALL the property and wealth of the religious orders involved in crimes against the Irish people should be confiscated and used to compensate those directly affected by those crimes with any excess to be used to provide public services – particularly in health care.

This should be part of a long overdue root and branch separation of church and state in Ireland. Remove the Catholic Church from any provision of public services such as health and education. Religion is a private matter and should have no role to play in the provision of public services.



Rebels 4 Choice press release on Citizen’s Assembly recommendations

Cork Pro-Choice Group Welcome Outcomes of Citizens Assembly and Call For Immediate Referendum.

Despite what seemed like attempts to confuse and possibly even unduly influence the Citizen’s Assembly over the past two days, they voted by overwhelming majority not to retain the 8th amendment and to replace it with a constitutional clause that essentially reverses it, giving power back to the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion and ending forever the dangerous misapprehension that a pregnant person’s life is only as important as that of any embryo or foetus they might carry.

The Assembly further voted by very significant majorities to recommend that that legislation allow pregnant people to choose to have an abortion regardless of the reason – showing that they, unlike our current government, trust pregnant people.

A referendum is now inevitable and should be called as soon as possible, said a spokesperson for Rebels4Choice, a Cork-based group campaigning for free, safe and legal access to abortion for all pregnant people. The Government may attempt to claim that the Citizens’ Assembly was only providing “advice” and prevaricate and/or present more restrictive proposals, but they should be aware that the tide has changed on this issue and the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly are only reflecting what is now the majority view in Irish society.

“The Irish Government has been exporting and shaming women and pregnant people for far too long,” said spokesperson Kathy D’Arcy.

“The reasons why a pregnant person chooses to have an abortion are complex and personal, and the decision is nobody’s business but that person and their healthcare provider – who should never, ever be under the thumb of a religious order.”

“While we have concerns over the arbitrary nature of any hard and fast time limits on access to abortion, we are delighted and proud that the Citizen’s Assembly have voted to free pregnant people from the constitutional and legal strait-jacket they have been subjected to since the 8th amendment was first added to the constitution. Women and pregnant people are citizens of this state and deserve the right to choose for their own bodies.”

Rebels4Choice are asking all Cork TDs to call for an immediate referendum and to oppose any governmental delay tactics which would cause further harm and trauma to Irish women.


Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment – press statement on Citizen’s Assembly votes this weekend

Citizens’ Assembly Reflects Strong Support For Change

The Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment has said today’s proceedings at the Citizens’ Assembly reflect the public’s strong desire for government to legislate to allow greater access to abortion.  However, the Coalition expressed concern at the voting process used during today’s meeting, saying it led to “unnecessary confusion” for Assembly members.

Commenting this evening (22.04.17), Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor of the Coalition, said: “In the first of this morning’s ballots, a resounding majority of Assembly members – 87 per cent – voted against retaining the Eighth Amendment in its entirety in our Constitution.

“In subsequent votes, the Assembly has recommended the Eighth Amendment be replaced to clearly state it is the business of the Oireachtas to legislate on abortion.

“Today’s voting in the Assembly’s tallies with opinion polls, which have consistently shown a majority of people support greater access to abortion and want the Government to demonstrate leadership and hold a referendum on this issue.

“The Eighth Amendment has been catastrophically problematic since it was inserted into the Constitution in 1983.  Until the Government faces up to its responsibility to introduce legislation to deal effectively with abortion, women in Ireland will continue to face serious risks.”

“A Convoluted Process”

Ms. Smyth said the voting system used during today’s Assembly meeting led to a lack of clarity for members.  “There were quite heated exchanges this afternoon, as some Assembly members expressed dissatisfaction with the process and said they had been unclear about the implications of their morning votes.”  she said.

“Ultimately, what the Assembly has recommended today will lead to repeal of the Eighth Amendment.  Their recommendation is to insert a new clause in its place that gives responsibility for legislating on the abortion to the Oireachtas – as should have always been the case.

“It’s not clear why Assembly members were forced to go through such a convoluted process today to arrive at a decision that was clear from the outcome of their first ballot this morning.  We feel that the members of the Assembly were subjected to unnecessary confusion throughout today’s proceedings.

“The potential negative effects of repealing the Eighth Amendment were emphasised, but at no point  were the potential benefits of repeal highlighted nor the international obligations Ireland has in relation to honouring and respecting  women’s human rights.

“The members of the Citizens’ Assembly are not constitutional lawyers.  They had a very difficult task, and we admire the dedication they showed in grappling with this issue.  What today’s proceedings highlighted – once again – is that this is a hugely complex area, best dealt with through clear legislation emanating from our elected representatives.”

Ms. Smyth noted that, tomorrow, the Assembly is due to engage in a further series of votes, aimed at identifying the shape any legislation on abortion should take, including – potentially – restrictions on access.

“We would have grave concerns at the idea of the Assembly pre-empting the legislative process by specifying the exact shape that any new law should take.” she said.


Support pro-choice stall in Cork


Rebels 4 Choice will be holding a stall on St. Patricks street this coming Saturday, 15 April, from 2pm to 5pm (see map for location outside SuperDry near the entrance to Carey’s Lane)


Please drop in if you are in town on Saturday or come along to help staff the stall for any time you can spare.

With the Citizen’s Assembly soon to make it’s final report the time is ripe to start getting the pro-choice message out on the streets of Cork and build support for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment.


Some thoughts on the 2017 transport strike

With the transport worker’s strike escalating with extension of the picket lines to Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann depots I would like to make some comments on how I see the way forward. Obviously I am not privy to the details of the dispute and balance of forces on the ground so rather than a full programme for taking the dispute forward I can only make comments at a general level but they still might be of interest.

  • Underlying any approach to the strike should be the principle of working class solidarity – “An injury to one is an injury to all”. Any attack on a section of the working class is an attack on us all.

This is true both at the level of general working class solidarity but also more concretely in terms of what is being described in this dispute as “the race to the bottom”. The capitalists will always use successful attacks on one group of workers as a justification for attacks on other sections of the working class. Most immediately this affects other workers in the transport sector but it is true more generally as well.

  • “Picket lines mean don’t cross” – any picket line of striking workers that calls on other workers not to cross should not be crossed. Support for this understanding, and that it may be necessary to enforce this physically, needs to be promulgated as widely as possible.
  • No reliance on the intuitions of the state.

There is a lot of talk about taking the dispute back into the capitalist state’s normal procedures for negotiating industrial disputes. However it should be obvious to anyone with eyes to see that there is no possibility of a compromise with some give and take on either side in this dispute.  Bus Éireann is in a dire financial state, unable to adequately compete in a market where the government is forging ahead with its programme of increasing privatisation allowing private bus companies to cherry-pick the best routes and employ workers on less favourable pay and conditions. There should be a centrally funded public system which provides for the transportation needs of all who need it.

  • Don’t trust the union leadership.

Even the best of the leadership of the unions as they currently exist are compromised by understanding their social role to be negotiators between the employers and workers who will find compromises through the capitalist state’s industrial adjudication processes.

But sometimes they will go even further such as NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary who called for the secondary pickets to be ended, saying he had no prior warning of the pickets and did not condone unofficial secondary picketing. ( – includes a link to video/audio of O’Leary making his comments)

  • Direct rank and file control of the dispute.

The other side to having no trust in the union leadership is that it is necessary to bring the strike under direct democratic control of the rank and file. Every depot should have a strike committee with delegates to regional and national strike organising committees. All positions to subject to immediate recall by those who elected them if required. These strike committees should cross union lines with all workers involved in the strike part of the same democratic structure.

  • Extend the solidarity.

The task of building solidarity with the strike should not be passive. Strike support committees of other workers wanting to actively support the strike should be created. They would organise meetings and protests in support of the strike, hold collections to help the strikers financially, organise helping the picket lines with food and moral support etc. Any strike support committees would be subordinate to the strike committees of the workers on strike.


What to do about the abuses of the Catholic Church? 

I’ve been living in Ireland for just over 10 years now and during that time there has been an almost constant stream of stories about horrific abuses by the religious orders of the Catholic Church. 

Surely it is time to disband these institutions of evil. Confiscate all their property and wealth. Use it to compensate those who survived that abuse and for socially progressive policies. 

And separate church and state to end the brainwashing of future generations through religious education in schools.