Abortion referendum must be standalone and carefully timed

The Government must ensure it times the referendum on repeal of the Eighth Amendment to facilitate full and active participation by all sectors of society.  That’s according to the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, which was responding today (29.07.17) to media reports on the timing and focus of future referendums.

The Coalition also stressed the need for the referendum to be “standalone”, focusing solely on the issue of abortion.

Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor of the Coalition, said: “Media reports that the Taoiseach is looking at June or July of next year for the referendum are extremely worrying, as are indications that the Government may decide to hold more than one referendum at the same time.

“Repealing the Eighth Amendment is far too important and complex an issue to be bundled together with other potential referendum topics.

“Furthermore, holding this referendum during the summer months – when many students are travelling or overseas – would effectively mean disenfranchising thousands of young people.  Repeal of the Eighth Amendment is a vital issue for their future and for the future of the country.  The timing of the referendum must be carefully considered to ensure it allows for full and active participation by all age-groups and all sectors of society.”

Ms. Smyth said she hopes the Government will engage in further consultation before the timing of the referendum is agreed and would welcome the setting of a date for the referendum as quickly as possible.

“We really want to stress the point to Government also that this needs to be a standalone referendum,” she said.

“The people of Ireland have been waiting over 30 years for their chance to repeal this harmful Amendment.  Opinion polls show the public want this issue addressed in a timely and definitive way, while a range of EU and UN bodies have sternly criticised Ireland’s failings and have urged the Government to reform Ireland’s abortion laws.”