UPDATE: Ireland gears up for imminent Referendum on the Right to Life

A referendum on the right to life is set to take place as early as May 2018, yet the leaders of the Christian Churches in Ireland made absolutely no mention of the forthcoming abortion referendum in their traditional New Year message.

The referendum is due in several months, and is predicted to be one where the Christian churches across the country, particularly the Catholic Church, will campaign hard - though it is not yet clear if they will unite together to campaign to help save the eighth amendment.

Instead of these prominent leaders tackling the abortion threat to Ireland head-on, the leaders used New Year addresses to reference the continuing problems of homelessness which they described as “one of the most tragic and glaring symptoms of a broken system that is leaving too many people without adequate support”.

The joint New Year message was from the Church of Ireland Primate of All-Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke, the Catholic Primate of All-Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Methodist Church president Rev Dr Laurence Graham, Bishop John McDowell, the President of the Irish Council of Churches and the Rt Rev Noble McNeely, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. It criticised government policy on both sides of the Border. In the Republic the leaders said one person in three living in emergency accommodation is a child, however the issue of protecting human life in the womb was never addressed.

The statement continued: “Across the world, over the past year, the number of families displaced by conflict, persecution and destitution has continued to rise, placing the lives and futures of more children at risk.

“At the beginning of this new year we add our voices to those calling for increased efforts to provide safety, security and protection for vulnerable families across the island of Ireland and throughout the world.

“Families are the essential building blocks of strong, resilient communities. Our experience in pastoral and social care underlines the centrality of family wellbeing to effective, long-term solutions to the major social challenges we face today.”

Meanwhile, in a rich and tragic twist of irony, the Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, says abortion without restriction should be available up to the 12th week of a pregnancy.

In a recent speech on the issue, Ms Zappone will say women should not feel the need to justify their decision to anyone.

It has been known that the Minister is in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment, but she has recently expanded on this stance in more detail.

Ms Zappone says the 8th Amendment should be totally repealed and not replaced with any other text in the Constitution, therefore leaving all unborn children in Ireland without any constitutional protection or rights whatsoever.

She wants to decriminalise abortion and says a termination should be available on request up to the 12th week of a pregnancy.

She goes further to say that, while she sees some argument in limiting abortion after the 12th week, it should not just be in extreme cases of risk to life, fatal foetal abnormality or rape, advocating a broad-based abortion platform.

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