By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
Hollywood A-listers and stars of the small screen have joined forces to call for a yes vote on the May 25 Eighth Amendment referendum as part of a video campaign launched last night.
Stars including Saoirse Ronan, Cillian Murphy, Tom Vaughan Lawlor and Victoria Smurfit publicly said they are supporting the yes campaign as both sides of the debate began nationwide tours.
In a star-laden video, the Hollywood actors and Irish stars of the small screen said they believe the Eighth Amendment needs to be repealed.
Reading from a shared script outlining their views, they said: “In Ireland today, if the woman sitting next to you is pregnant she does not have full rights over her own body.
“This must stop. In Ireland today, things can change. This is a once in a lifetime vote. Please vote yes.”
The video was launched in tandem with a Together For Yes national campaign which will see pro-choice activists travel to 22 counties across Ireland over the next 12 days to urge a yes vote on Friday May 25.
The bus tour will be rivaled by a similar campaign by the pro-life Love Both group, which left from Dublin City Hall on Saturday.
Responding to the video, Cora Sherlock of the Love Both campaign said many people will be disappointed.
"I'm sure many people feel very let down to see celebrities join in with the political chorus that is trying to persuade the Irish people to introduce abortion on demand into this country, a course of action that would only repeat the mistakes made in England and other European countries," said Ms Sherlock.
She added: "It’s very disappointing that Irish celebrities have chosen to use their voice, not in defence of the weak but in defence of a Government proposal to take the right to life out of the Constitution.
"Have people like Liam Neeson actually thought about what is involved in allowing abortion without restriction on children up to 12 weeks old, when they already have perfectly formed little arms, legs, and a beating heart?"