Irish author upset by images of children with Down Syndrome used in abortion debate

By Olivia Kelleher

An Irish author who has a young daughter with Down Syndrome has said that he is concerned that literature which has circulated in relation to the Eight Amendment debate will make children such as his own feel unloved or unwanted by their parents.

Darach O’Seaghdha, author of the Irish language guide Motherfocloir, says that young children should not be put at risk to being exposed to deeply harmful literature.

The Love Both group literature depicts a child with Down Syndrome under the banner headline “90 per cent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in Britain are aborted.”

If you cannot see the Facebook post above, click here.

Mr O’ Seaghdha told the "Opinion Line" on Cork’s 96FM that he is gravely offended by the implied message that certain children only exist because terminations are not an option in this country.

He said: “With small children they deserve to have to not care about politics yet. But I will have to explain to her (his daughter Lasairiona) before she is an age where you should have to care about these sorts of things.

"And it will be very upsetting for her to get the impression from voices on the radio or this material that she is only here because she wasn’t wanted. We wanted her. We love her so much.”

Mr O’Seaghdha says it is upsetting that children with Down Syndrome are more likely to see another person with Down Syndrome in one of those campaigns "than in a cartoon, than driving a car or working in a shop".

The author says it is hard enough as a parent to face actual issues such as obtaining speech and language therapy for your child without having an upset youngster coming to you saying: "Do people want to get rid of me?"

Darach O’Seaghdha.

Darach says the literature flies in the face of people who have continued with pregnancies after pre-natal screenings.

He said: “Also people who decided not to get the screenings because they are happy to accept the chance of a child with Down Syndrome. They (the campaigners) are also flying in the face of people who have done real things for the advancement of people with disabilities."

He adds that it’s important to note that the Eighth Amendment was not introduced with the protection or advancement of people with disabilities in mind.

Darach said: "Its continued existence does not govern the ethics of pre-natal screening, the availability of speech and language services, the right to marry or take a driving test, the provision of jobs and housing for adults with disabilities or the hiring of enough special needs assistants in schools."

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