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I accept your general point - politicians tend to respond more to the wishes of donors and well organised lobby groups than they do to majorities in the populace at large which don't contribute to their campaigns, don't represent an organised threat to their re-election, may be susceptible to false or misleading propaganda, and indeed may or may not bother to vote.

However you also said:

However, from the outside, Ireland still looks like a theological tyranny. The Dail seems to prefer to act as a rubber stamp for their clerical overlords than as a representative of the people who elected them.

I appreciate that the population are disgusted by many aspects of the Church, but they still turn out in droves on Sunday. And worse, in Ireland as elsewhere, politicians are, as a group, more religious than the people they represent

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That was all certainly true of Ireland in the past, but I'm suggesting to you that it is less true now, and possibly even less true of Ireland now than (say) Spain or the UK. I wish I were 100% sure the referendum will pass (my children are delaying their travel plans so as to be sure of being in the country to vote), but it will not take place in a policy vacuum.

Cabinet agrees to table legislation to hold an abortion referendum

The Government will publish on Friday a short policy paper outlining a proposed future abortion law, which it will introduce in the Dáil if the referendum is passed.

It will commit to abortions on request up to 12 weeks and propose that a time period should be introduced between the request for a termination and the abortion pill being accessed.

It would not stretch beyond three days, it is understood. The two options being examined are a dated prescription or requesting the woman return to the doctor in the following days.

After 12 weeks, two medical professionals will be asked to determine the risk to a woman's life, health or mental health before a termination can be provided. The same will apply in the cases of fatal foetal abnormalities. An appeals mechanism will be available to the woman in the event she is unsatisfied with the outcome.

There is no absolute guarantee that an abortion law to effect the above policy will be passed post referendum because the Government is a minority government and will allow a free vote. Any law passed can also be amended in the future. However it will be a brave politician who will vote against the will of the people as expressed in the referendum having taken place in the context of the above government legislative proposals. You have had some recent experience of how few politicians are prepared to vote with their conscience if it is contrary to even a very narrow referendum result.

However I do have some misgivings. Ireland has been travelling in a progressive liberalising direction for about the last 30 years but that trend has been sharply reversed in the US, UK and some Eastern European countries. I am fearful of the day that happens in Ireland as well, and hopeful that it will not happen in time to defeat the 8th. the Amendment (legalisation of Abortion) referendum proposal. I always said that the 1960's didn't happen until the 1970's in Ireland.  Hopefully the Trump/Brexit/neo-fascist era won't arrive here for another few years yet.

I also hope your cynicism isn't widely shared in Ireland. It is difficult to motivate people to go out and vote if they are convinced it won't make any difference anyway...

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 10th, 2018 at 12:14:01 PM EST
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