- 14 Jun 18
The repealing of the 8th Amendment was fought for over the years by tireless campaigners - and finally powerful brought to fruition.
Picture it. 1979 was the high point of punk. British youth were gearing up to battle the new Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But in Ireland 300,000 young people attended the papal Mass in Galway, whooped up by - Jaysus, can you credit it now - Fr. Michael Cleary and Bishop Eamonn Casey. Both, of course, were subsequently discredited.
Overall, events involving the Pope were attended by maybe 2.5 million people. No wonder the godfathers of the God squad thought they were in the saddle for the long haul. Arrogant in the extreme, pompous too, and almost all men, they started thinking about how to capitalise on the papal feelgood factor to entrench their values in Ireland. Hence the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland, and its saleability to the Irish voters, waved into being by Charlie Haughey and Garrett FitzGerald, politicians whom the godfathers despised. Each was more eager than the other to be seen to be 'pro-life', and not-out-of-step on holiness, notwithstanding that they themselves were often less than virtuous...
In truth, what looked like a rising tide for the Church and its aims in Ireland was nothing of the sort. A steady stream of revelations, mostly uncovered by great and diligent journalists, began to dismantle almost every aspect of the Ireland that had entered the 1980s. Look at the long list of tribunals and enquiries into planning corruption, backhanders and brown envelopes, offshore accounts. Think of the almost endless procession of disgraces and scandals.