Grandparents join families to urge yes vote on Eighth

Grandparents and their families have joined forces in appealing for a yes vote in the referendum on the Eighth Amendment, rejecting suggestions that senior citizens will vote against repeal on May 25.

Ailbhe Smyth, Frank Crummy, Carol Hunter, Gemma Hussey, Catherine McGuinness and Liz McManus. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins

With just over two weeks until the May 25 vote, the yes side communicated the messages of grandmothers and grandfathers who witnessed and voted in the Eighth Amendment campaign of 1983.

Retired Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness urged voters to trust the memories and experiences of women who campaigned against the abortion restrictions in 1983.

“I say, as a woman and as a grandparent, that we can be trusted to make decisions,” she said.

Ms McGuinness, who was joined by her adult grandchildren at the Dublin event, said she salutes women who have come out and shared their difficult experiences of abortion. 

Without such voices, there could be no conversation around the May 25 vote, she said.

She also saluted the doctors who are promoting the validity of a yes vote. 

However, she said, there is a rural element of elderly men who may not change their views since the original Eighth Amendment vote of 1983 and will vote no.

The retired judge said that the “sad tales of the last 35 years” have strengthened and confirmed her beliefs.

Former Fine Gael minister Gemma Hussey described how a scaremongering campaign in 1983 said abortion would be introduced “any minute” and this influenced the constitutional change.

The panel said voters will make up their own minds this time and go to the ballot boxes indifferent of what posters are put up.

Ms Hussey and former Labour minister Liz McManus condemned no campaign posters targetting Health Minister Simon Harris.

Mr Harris has strongly criticised posters with graphic imagery put up in his constituency of Wicklow along with his image. 

They feature a picture of Mr Harris but behind him is an image of what appears to be a foetus. 

The minister has said his family and friends are upset at the poster.

Ms McManus said that, in 1983, those campaigning for a constitutional ban on abortion used posters claiming that she would pay for abortions.

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