Archive Page 2


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


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.