We are voting on the thorniest socio-political issue of our time


According to his spokesperson, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has decided to wait until the wording of the abortion referendum is defined before determining whether or not he will ‘personally campaign in favour of the measure.’ I can’t see anything wrong with that…can you readers?

  I mean, it’s always best to make an informed decision based on all of the statistics at your disposal. And, if  that decision pertains to a highly significant and hugely important fundamental issue directly relating to a law giving an equal right to life to the mother and to the unborn child she is carrying – i.e., should the Eighth Amendment be retained, repealed or amended –then information is vital.

  However, as Leo confirmed that the referendum on the Eighth Amendment will be held next summer, in either May or June, (in addition to the abortion referendum, we’re given a timeline for seven others set to be held over the next couple of years), one would be forgiven for thinking An Taoiseach’s uncertainty regarding his stance was kind of bizarre. You see, when your country’s leader is pushing to hold a referendum you’d have an expectation that he would be supporting it, wouldn’t you?

  Now this referendum is an incredibly devisive issue. It’s been hanging like a millstone around our necks for decades, but I still believe that if Leo, (or anyone else), is unclear as to their position, then they’ve got a right to wait until they see the wording. Put simply, if the language isn’t precise, then we’ll just get it wrong yet again.

  Now I’ve got strong opinions on this issue myself but I won’t be sharing them in this column because it’s not my intention to try and sway readers either way. I will say however, even though I’ll be keeping an open mind, I’d imagine no amount of wording will swing my standpoint or my convictions. But, I will try my hardest to remain objective until I know more.    

  Nevertheless, if anyone is undecided or feels they’re being unfairly harassed by one side or the other, (or by both, because people can get quite intimidating and oppressive on both sides of this topic), then I would respectfully advise that everyone should read the wording carefully, and know exactly what they’re voting for, before they arrive at the polling station to make their choice. 

  I would ask readers to please bear in mind that as this is possibly one of the thorniest and most emotive socio-political issues our little country has managed to catastrophically fail to deal with for, oh… decades, it’s really time to get down to business, stop debating and get our house in order once and for all.

Drop in suicide rate in comforting

I was delighted, as I’m sure so too were readers, that, according to the HSE, our country’s suicide rate has ‘stabilised’, with data suggesting it’s on the decrease. However, wonderful though this news is, we must not get complacent. You see, this report’s information is still telling me that suicide is a major problem and concern in Ireland, (and in our own county), so we must be mindful of anyone who displays a preoccupation with taking their own life.

  On the other hand, we are going in the right direction because the study does show the methods being employed to reach out and help those who experience the torture of enduring unbearable emotional pain, appear to be having a positive effect; so at least we can take solace from that.

  I’d really like to ask readers to please keep an eye on anyone whom they feel may be at risk of self-harming and bear in mind, those who complete suicide do not wish to end their lives; they simply wish to end their intolerable pain.

  Pieta House, (whose Midlands office is in Athlone), operates a national FreePhone helpline on 1800 247 24. You can also log onto www.pieta.ie for information on how you can help someone who’s feeling suicidal.