The Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, is now seriously at odds with both the Parliamentary Party and the party membership in regard to abortion.
Before Christmas, the Fianna Fáíl Ard Fheis voted against abortion by an 80% majority, while most of the party’s TDs and Senators are opposed to repealing the constitutional right to life of preborn babies.
Micheál Martin ‘s speech last week in the Dáil calling for abortion on demand was a kick in the teeth for the majority of his party. Bobby Aylward and Mary Butler are amongst those who have pointed out that what he said does not represent the views of the majority of Fianna Fáil TDs or supporters. Reactions from Fianna Fáil voters in various media vox pops and texts to radio were largely critical of Martin, with many saying they would not vote for the party again as long as Martin was leader.
Martin claimed that he had changed his mind of this issue because he had read the evidence before the Oireachtas Committee. He is fooling no-one. The dogs in the street know how biased and rigged that Committee was, and the evidence came mostly from abortion supporters, and even from abortionists who kill babies for a living.
I believe that this supposed change of heart is, in fact, a deeply cynical political move.
Fianna Fáil has recovered somewhat from the wipeout election of 2008, but they have never achieved the surge in the polls the party needs under Martin’s leadership.
Martin wants to play to both sides of the abortion debate – hoping that his move to support abortion will bring pro-abortion voters to the party, while pro-life voters will continue to be satisfied with the pro-life stance of other TDs in the party.
As political correspondent Fiach Kelly pointed out on Today with Seán O’Rourke, the 2017 Ard Fheis heard from Professor Tim Bale who posited that Fianna Fáil could increase its urban vote by supporting abortion. It is likely that Bale is underestimating the backlash from pro-life voters in the short term, and misunderstanding where middle Ireland is on the issue. The majority of people, as evidenced from our canvass on the doors, are not in favour of abortion on demand.
Martin is gambling on the belief that pro-life voters will have no-where else to go. He is wrong. They can vote for Independents, for Renua (who have not gone away), or simply not vote at all, and therefore lose Fianna Fáíl the seat.
Martin always struck me as a man desperate to gain media favour, even though he should be aware that Labour were always great media favourites and it didn’t save them from rock bottom at the last election. He will no doubt be delighted at the fawning approval now accorded him because he is supporting aborting babies for any reason at all. The media have described his speech as ‘brave’, as if there was anything brave in attacking the right to life of a helpless child, or of taking a stance so wholeheartedly supported by the media, the political establishment, the elites in Brussels and powerful international abortion campaigners.
Micheál Martin’s official position is now that Ireland should have an abortion law more extreme than that which exists in Britain. By supporting the recommendations of the rigged committee on the 8th amendment, he is supporting the abortion of babies for no other reason that their existence is inconvenient. This is unconscionable, extremist, and mistaken.
By adopting this position, Mr. Martin has ensured that once again, an Irish referendum campaign will see the entirety of the political establishment line up on one side, against a civil society campaign and the people on the other side. It is remarkable how often this seems to happen, and it is unhealthy in a democracy.
Nonetheless, the pro-life movement will wage a formidable fight to the end to save the 8th amendment – and, as the Nice and Lisbon referendums have shown, we have won unexpected victories against the odds before. This cruel and unjust abortion proposal will be defeated.