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Thread: State papers: Legal concerns expressed over effects of Pro Life Amendment

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    Politics.ie Member borntorum's Avatar
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    Default State papers: Legal concerns expressed over effects of Pro Life Amendment

    It's slightly ironic, given the current situation, that the new release of State papers illustrates concerns held by two Attorneys General in 1982 over the possible implications of the Pro Life Amendment.

    This was despite the government being warned by attorney general Patrick Connolly SC that a “pro-life” amendment “might well have the effect of threatening the right of the mother” to have a life-saving operation.


    Foreseeing some of the problems thrown up by the 1992 X case, Mr Connolly noted that, “whatever my personal views be”, a rape victim could not be exempted from any constitutional prohibition.


    Nor, “in the current climate of what it is sought to achieve”, could the amendment exempt abortion where the mental health of a woman was at serious risk.
    His successor, John Murray, did not think the proposed wording would diminish the rights of the mother - instead, he warned that making the right to life of the unborn subject to the right to life of the mother could "open the door" to abortion unless the courts interpreted the wording narrowly.
    And it subsequently transpired that both of these predictions have been proven correct. It is surely obvious that the Pro Life Amendment was disastrous, from whichever way it is looked at. It's now clear that the Haughey government was aware of the risks, but pushed on regardless.

    Abortion referendum wording was seen as 'time bomb' - The Irish Times - Fri, Dec 28, 2012

    State papers reveal pro-life amendment concerns - RTÉ News

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    Politics.ie Member LamportsEdge's Avatar
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    Irish Attorney Generals are timid beasts, are they not? They can be circumvented, hectored very easily into a pained silence, persuaded of political reasons to be circumspect with a legal analysis by the government of the given day... then again that is not a situation confined to Irish Attorney Generals.

    I remember the hideousness of the furore over the UK Attorney General and whether the government there had a legal basis to attack Iraq.

    One wonders whether Attorney General is more of a government PR position than any real effort at checks and balances in a democracy because as far as I can see they have a funny habit and not just in Ireland of muttering an analysis through their moustaches and spending the rest of their careers trying to avoid cogent questions about their mutterings.

    Who was the Attorney General in '82 and is he safely ensconced like O'Leary in the grave now?
    Whenever understanding exists, accepting or rejecting is unnecessary. (Fundamentals of a Gnostic Education).

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    Politics.ie Member Andrew49's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LamportsEdge View Post
    Irish Attorney Generals are timid beasts, are they not? They can be circumvented, hectored very easily into a pained silence, persuaded of political reasons to be circumspect with a legal analysis by the government of the given day... then again that is not a situation confined to Irish Attorney Generals.

    I remember the hideousness of the furore over the UK Attorney General and whether the government there had a legal basis to attack Iraq.

    One wonders whether Attorney General is more of a government PR position than any real effort at checks and balances in a democracy because as far as I can see they have a funny habit and not just in Ireland of muttering an analysis through their moustaches and spending the rest of their careers trying to avoid cogent questions about their mutterings.

    Who was the Attorney General in '82 and is he safely ensconced like O'Leary in the grave now?
    Attorneys General 1982

    Patrick Connolly 10 March 1982 - 16 August 1982
    John L. Murray 17 August 1982 - 14 December 1982
    Peter Sutherland 15 December 1982 - 12 December 1984
    I watched with glee, while your kings and queens, fought for ten decades for the gods they made.

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    Politics.ie Member LamportsEdge's Avatar
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    Thanks Andrew- the full horror of that fat court eunuch for the money interest Peter Sutherland has just returned. I may postpone breakfast for a while.

    It is a weird position- apparently powerless as that church-owned humunculus Michael Woods proved when he dismissed any concerns the AG might have had in doing a bent deal with the Bishops on their clerical abuse bill... something which the AG of the time could, it appears, only flap his arms in alarm on Stephen's Green about like some kind of overly polite heron with its fish stolen.

    One of those strange pointy jobs in a Republic where the wine is good and dinners plentiful and yet when called upon to perform any useful act in a democracy suddenly produces the most awful stage fright in the trussed up grandee who holds the position.

    You can see how fake the supposed checks and balances are in a democracy by simply reading an account of the awkward gaps by what AGs rule to be the case in public at any breathless moment in the Republic and the amount of time later they spend studiously attempting to avoid explaining why they came to a decision- or why they didn't.

    As a function of democracy it seems to be the Red Headed Child of the Republic, that particular station.
    Whenever understanding exists, accepting or rejecting is unnecessary. (Fundamentals of a Gnostic Education).

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    Politics.ie Member borntorum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LamportsEdge View Post
    Thanks Andrew- the full horror of that fat court eunuch for the money interest Peter Sutherland has just returned. I may postpone breakfast for a while.

    It is a weird position- apparently powerless as that church-owned humunculus Michael Woods proved when he dismissed any concerns the AG might have had in doing a bent deal with the Bishops on their clerical abuse bill... something which the AG of the time could, it appears, only flap his arms in alarm on Stephen's Green about like some kind of overly polite heron with its fish stolen.

    One of those strange pointy jobs in a Republic where the wine is good and dinners plentiful and yet when called upon to perform any useful act in a democracy suddenly produces the most awful stage fright in the trussed up grandee who holds the position.

    You can see how fake the supposed checks and balances are in a democracy by simply reading an account of the awkward gaps by what AGs rule to be the case in public at any breathless moment in the Republic and the amount of time later they spend studiously attempting to avoid explaining why they came to a decision- or why they didn't.

    As a function of democracy it seems to be the Red Headed Child of the Republic, that particular station.
    You don't seem to understand the role of Attorney General. He/she is legal advisor to the government. S/he is not a 'check' on the rest of the cabinet. Like any other legal advisor, the client (I.e. government) is free to reject the AG's advice

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    Politics.ie Member LamportsEdge's Avatar
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    I didn't suggest he or she should be a 'check on the cabinet'. Taoisigh never have any problem checking an Irish cabinet- that is a matter of pork barrelling some and threatening others so no Attorney General needed.

    We must be in some state if the lawyers of the Irish Government (and they usually are where they aren't teachers) require lawyers to advise them.

    I believe the AG has a role in informing the Govt whether what they are doing or their reaction to any situation is within the law under the constitution as far as I understand it and in Ireland as elsewhere that is likely to produce a troubled digestion in any such officeholder.
    Whenever understanding exists, accepting or rejecting is unnecessary. (Fundamentals of a Gnostic Education).

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    Politics.ie Member borntorum's Avatar
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    There's lots more interesting details on the Irish Times website about this topic, but I don't want to risk infringing copyright by putting them all up here. However, the following is also somewhat ironic:

    Enda Kenny made repeated representations on behalf of constituents in 1981 and 1982 seeking to expedite the introduction of the “pro-life” amendment to the Constitution.
    Newly released correspondence shows Kenny was prominent among TDs in writing to the Department of the Taoiseach on the issue.
    Kenny made repeated inquiries on referendum - The Irish Times - Fri, Dec 28, 2012

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    Politics.ie Member LamportsEdge's Avatar
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    Hardly surprising in fairness. These people are basically ciphers for the mood of the day among their constituents so at the present day he'll be just as busy trying to expedite a way to legislate for the 'X' case.

    The formula being to attempt to minimise any vote loss either back in 1982 or now.
    Whenever understanding exists, accepting or rejecting is unnecessary. (Fundamentals of a Gnostic Education).

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    Politics.ie Member Catalpast's Avatar
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    As we still don't (thank God) have Abortion on demand in this Country

    - then it must be said that from the perspective of the Pro Life campaigners

    - the result of the Amendment was a success!

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    Politics.ie Member LamportsEdge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catalpast View Post
    As we still don't (thank God) have Abortion on demand in this Country

    - then it must be said that from the perspective of the Pro Life campaigners

    - the result of the Amendment was a success!
    Point of order- in fact we do. Only these days it involves airmiles to the UK rather than some down-at-heel medico in a grimy backstreet in Dublin. We always have had abortion on demand in Ireland whether that be the demand for the backstreet abortionist or the flight schedule to Manchester.

    The decision is and always has been made in Ireland either way.
    Whenever understanding exists, accepting or rejecting is unnecessary. (Fundamentals of a Gnostic Education).

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