When the history of the campaigns around the Eighth Amendment come to be written, last week’s Dáil announcement by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that he would vote to remove Article 40.3.3 to allow for terminations up to 12 weeks may get a paragraph.
The fact that he made the announcement without giving prior knowledge to his parliamentary colleagues may get a footnote — maybe.
It was inevitable that such an announcement would cause division, as was confirmed by last evening’s meeting of “concerned” FF TDs , but what was not inevitable was how his Dáil and constituency colleague, Micheal McGrath, reacted. McGrath expressed surprise at the way the announcement was made and confirmed that he could not support his leader’s position.
This was done without acrimony or the hysteria that has driven so much of this decades-long debate. The issue was not personalised. The ball, not the man, was played.
As we batten down the hatches for the coming storm, we should thank them for showing that this debate need not be as destructively divisive as it has been.