By Cathy Lee
Ireland is a place for decisive and divisive referenda.
The Divorce referendum of 1996 and of course The Marriage referendum of just last year come to mind.
Call me biased, but these all happened in my lifetime.
Last week the Literary and Debating Society in NUI Galway held a debate on whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment of the constitution.
This of course is topical as it has been raised as an election issue currently, with some politicians showing their true colours as is to be expected.
But some politicians have been giving mixed messages about their stance on the matter.
About a year ago a Fine Gael TD claimed that he himself was pro-life in his stance but would agree with the need for his party to call a referendum on repealing the 8th and legalising abortion.
The term that first comes to mind during this time is “uncertainty” in these changing times.
We can’t be certain what’s to happen and what really defines “progress and change” to Irish politicians.
What is good for the country moving forward versus the sincerity in the views of Irish politicians seems to be an issue.
The government changed legislation in 2013 to make abortion accessible on the grounds of when a woman is showing signs of being suicidal.
Pro-Life campaigners were unhappy with this legislation and Galway representative for this campaign told me she’d like to see this legislation changed back to the way it was before 2013.
Although this legislation passed, you take the example of the “Ms Y” case of the same year (that is still ongoing) where the woman in question claimed to be suicidal and was still not able to access her own wishes to abort the foetus who had been conceived through rape.
Pro-Choice campaigners would prefer to have the 8th amendment of the constitution just be deleted and therefore avoiding any confusion around matters of defining whether a woman is sincere or not etc.
Deleted is a key word to this, as phrasing is so important when trying to convince the general public of complex views.
Last month national radio station NewsTalk launched their conversation campaign around Election 2016.
Their phrasing really struck me.
Their slogan was “Time to terminate the 8th?” with a photograph of a 6 month baby scan.
I couldn’t believe that this campaign was spread across the main billboard in my small home town.
(Just 100 metres away from the Catholic church too I might add).
We can experience bias when it comes to these referenda when we are presented with a fogged view of the reality.
When speaking to a local county councillor at home in Wicklow, he explained that a campaign to repeal the 8th would be certainly harder to achieve than other referenda.
With the “Yes Equality” campaign running up until last May, there were positive stories to tell about couples finding love and wishing to marry.
With abortion, often the stories are highly sensitive and not always positive.
But it also makes you wonder where all the losers on the side of these referenda go?
Do they just disappear off the radar when their views aren’t the majority?
Do those who voted “No” in the Marriage referendum boycott same-sex weddings or those who said “No” to divorce just force wedding rings back onto fingers now?
I understand everyone is entitled to their opinions and moral views on these topics, but it just get to wondering where is the future and will it actually facilitate everyone?
The conversation must be opened more instead of one side shunning the other’s views out.
Compromise is key in my view for this debate.