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Go Voting on Friday

Yes, on the coming Friday (26 October) the presidential election is taking place in Ireland and you should go and cast your vote if you have one! Only if you are an Irish citizen you get to vote and I know that MANY Dublin Event Guide Readers are not citizens in Ireland, but the rest should definitely go and vote.

You might ask WHY? Because in the end it will have absolutely no impact on your life (or anybody else’s) or on Irish politics or on your wealth or wellbeing. Yes, indeed, voting for the Irish President is a bit of a waste of time as far as real life issues are concerned. BUT using your vote, whenever you have the opportunity, is – in my opinion – a sort of duty for everyone who cares about democracy. There will be no repercussions if you don’t vote, so the “duty” element is just a “moral duty”, but nevertheless it is relevant to keep democracy alive/working.

If you want to know my opinion about who people should vote for – and yes, it is a bit controversial – you will find it at www.joergsteegmueller.com/2018/10/19/presidential-election-anyone-but-miggeldy/

By the way, you will ALSO have a vote about a referendum on that Friday. The referendum will decide if the Blasphemy article will stay in the constitution or not. (Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, or sacred things.) Total nonsense in a secular society that does not depend on any church (anymore). And in the Irish version, the Blasphemy  article even only covers the Christian definition of a “God” and ignores all other religions. Even more a reason to get rid of this silly article from 1935.

To Repeal or Not to Repeal? There can only be ONE answer!

It took me a LONG time to write this article. Not because I don’t know what to think, but because I found it difficult to create a readable piece of written work because it is such a complex subject and my thoughts and opinions are similarly complex.

Let me start with the simple (or not!) part and the part that already might stop you from reading anything else after it unless you are the type of person who has the ability to disagree with another opinion and still can continue to listen/read for another bit to understand why.

The simple part is this: There is only ONE answer that a democratically-minded person should give to the question “To Repeal or not to repeal” and that is a clear and loud YES. But the next bit will surprise you maybe: The reason for the YES should have NOTHING to do with abortion or no abortion in the first place.

It is “YES” for me without hesitation, but I dislike the idea of abortions! So my opinion is not straight forward and I (partially) disagree with both camps that fight over the 8th Amendment Referendum.

Let me explain:
The Referendum is a decision about a clause in the Irish constitution and without a shadow of a doubt the clause about the protection of unborn life has NO place in a constitution. The New Oxford American Dictionary says “A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed.” In such a document, clauses like the 8th Amendment have no place! The laws of a country are there to cover what happens if you steal, or murder or do other possibly illegal things and that is where any regulation about abortion should be. The constitution is there to explain what the role of the parliament is and what the president does and how the state is organised, nothing else.

For that reason the 8th Amendment should have never been added to the constitution and it is high time that it will be removed.

BUT IT OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T END THERE

Unfortunately (but somewhat understandably) the issue for most voters will not be decided by the suitability of a certain clause in a constitution but by the further effect this clause will have and by their personal opinion. That’s where it gets messy.

After the YES vote at the referendum, we should have a discussion about abortion and that should lead to the relevant laws about it. It should be an open discussion, but that won’t happen. And for that reason the referendum will regrettably not be about the constitutional amendment but about the law that might take its place.

If you like that piece of law, you will vote YES and if you don’t like it then you will vote NO to block the ability to have a open and democratic discussion. I think that approach is wrong but I can understand why it is taken by the NO side.

WILL A NO STOP ABORTIONS

One question we need to ask is if a NO vote will stop abortions and I think it is 100% clear that it will not stop them! So voting NO can only be driven by trying to keep the lid on it. But if someone votes NO he/she will not stop women to go to the UK to get an abortion and oddly this seems to be something the NO side can live with. It shocks me, to be honest. A consequent NO voter should insist on making abortions illegal and put women in jail of they terminate the pregnancy. Anything else is a cowardly escape from a hugely problematic issue.

I would never be in support of criminalising the termination of a pregnancy and – in all honesty – I can imagine situations in my past where I didn’t have to, but where I would have been prepared to seriously consider suggesting an abortion if I had been the other 50% contributor to a pregnancy.

I would go even one step further and would claim that a YES will not cause a significant increase of abortions. Women that decide to have an abortion (and don’t think ANY woman is thrilled about having an abortion. Maybe thrilled about not being pregnant anymore, about not about going through the procedure.)

So if abortions won’t get stopped and if there might not even be an increase in abortions then a NO vote is even less effective.

TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY OR NOT?

But that leads me to the big question of what my opinion is about the early termination of a pregnancy? Be warned, though, it is not simple!

I am between both camps and feel unrepresented by either of them. I am in favour of the option of an abortion in certain circumstances and at the same time I feel very sad when I hear that in one year up to 190,000 wonderful children could have been born in the UK but they never got a chance to see this wonderful world. So I would love it if abortions were not necessary.

The overriding opinion I have is that nobody should be forced to be pregnant and nobody should be forced to end a pregnancy! There should be help available – good and positive and constructive help – in all situations where a woman has concerns about her pregnancy and the possible termination of it.

ABORTION SHOULD BE ALLOWED IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS

If the pregnancy was caused by a rape, if the baby has genetical abnormalities or if there is a medical reason that puts the mother at risk or that means the baby has limited chances to survive, the mother should be helped making the decision in a neutral, compassionate and non-influencing way. It ultimately is the mother (ideally with involvement of the father, but ideal situations don’t always happen!) who has to and should be allowed to decide if she wants the continuation or end of a pregnancy. If there is a medical situation then ALWAYS the survival of the mother should have priority.

Abortion as a method of birth control is a aspect I am very uncomfortable with, BUT I can see why even in these situations a mother will decide to end the pregnancy and I am not so arrogant to think that I know better or I or we as society should tell her what she should think or feel! So I am in favour of the option of abortion, but I think there should ALWAYS neutral (!) advise be given before the final decision.

If an abortion is a frequently used method for birth control though, I think our society and educational system has failed badly because there are other methods of birth control that we have to educate better about. An abortion should be the very very last option.

BABY OR NO BABY?

I know the difficult question about what this “thing” is in a woman’s womb has to be considered but it doesn’t make things easier. I think that it doesn’t matter if it is a foetus or a baby, it is definitely a form of life. And an abortion is the ending of life! Yes, I said it! And I am still not moving to the NO camp. Why is that? It is because I am hypocritical!! :-O But it gets worse: Most of us are hypocritical and we have not much of a problem with it!!

We are also arrogant! We think that us human beings rule this world and we should be allowed to do whatever we want (or whatever our moral source allows us to do). Have you ever killed a fly? Or a spider? You killed life that was created by God or the creator or whatever you believe is the source of being. Do you eat meat? Slaughter is brutal murder for our own pleasure! But we only SOME animals! The animals we feel are at the lower end of the intelligence hierarchy we kill. Cows and pigs. But would you eat dog or horse? NOOOO! HOW horrible! Why is that horrible? Why is it ok to kill and eat fish, but dolphins must be protected? We are soooo hypocritical!!

I am not suggesting that foetus is an animal, but most of us are not consequent. We make up stories and justifications. Oh and by the way, BOTH sides make up stories and justifications!

I admit that I am hypocritical and that’s why I am saying that I wished abortions were not necessary, I ALSO am of the opinion that we can’t close our eyes to medical, criminological, genetical AND societal reasons that could make it impossible for a woman to bring this baby she is carrying into this world. And if I am a hypocrite, what right do I have to judge her? We should help women to be able to see that there are options and that abortion is not the ONLY way in a stress situation, but we have to stop being arrogant a**holes who know better!

For that reason I am saying there is only ONE answer and that answer has to be YES.

By the way, if you are strongly against abortions then you can do something: Help organisations or even start an organisation that helps to reduce abortions. Work on making adoptions easier! Help people that provide financial and practical support to women in crisis so that maybe they will be able to consider bringing this baby in this world. Don’t be a person who votes NO and then does NOTHING! You are not saving lives! Vote YES and then start saving lives!!!

Election Posters? Yes or No?

Elections usually come with a small discussion about election posters. At every election a vast amount of “Vote Me! Vote Me!” posters with the faces of the numerous candidates are put up on lamp posts and bridges all over the country. But it is not certain, possibly even doubtful, if the posters have any positive effect on voters. Many think that they are just totally ineffective and do not influence voters at all.

The rules around election posters are very strict. They are only allowed to be on display from a clearly specified date before the elections (max 30 days) and until 1 week after the election. If posters are up too early or didn’t get removed in time, they are considered as litter and the party will get fined for each poster that has been found. But even with all these rules, many think posters should be forbidden completely.

And then a Referendum comes along that doesn’t just bring mugshots of wannabe politicians onto the posters, but instead shows foetuses, pregnancy bellies with painted babies on them and other graphic posters by the NO side with all sorts of dramatic and seemingly not always truthful warnings. The YES side on the other hand might be accused of too much simplifying the options. And since we know that this is a hugely emotional disagreement between YES and NO and that it is highly unlikely that the posters will change someone’s opinions, I am totally in favour of forbidding all election and referendum posters in future.

Keep the lampposts free from litter and save the money for better uses!

Project Arts Centre: Get two cans of paint and achieve a BIG impact!

Some people are skilled in using minimalist means to get max. effect and the Project Arts Centre is definitely good at that!

They tried it in 2016 and were very successful with it and they just copied the same recipe again and seemingly will get a similar maximised effect. Others would have to pay THOUSANDS for it, the Project Arts Centre just had to pay for two cans of paint.

So what is this clever recipe? Here it goes: Get a recognised artist, give him a can of white paint and a can of red paint and get him to paint a controversial message on the wall of your building. The artist can get help to speed up the process by the way. And don’t worry about the fact that not tooo many people will actually see the painted on message. Just make sure that the “authorities” will find out about it. (In 2016 it was Dublin City who had a problem with the missing planning permission for the “advertisement message”, this time it is the Charities’ Regulator.)

Hope and pray that the authorities have a big problem with that controversial message on the wall and tell you off and DEMAND that it will be removed. Now you get the press involved and tell them about it. Because it is a “sensational” thing that you are told off, they will hopefully write about it. And bingo! You didn’t have to hang a single poster of pay for expensive ad space online or on lamp posts and you reach more people than anyone else.

When you are told off, don’t fight it, but declare immediately that you will be happy to remove the international respected artists’ piece of art work. Then turn the removal of the message into an event by giving a date and time when you will remove it and with a bit of luck you might get the press to queue up to get a cool picture of the destroying of public art and if that goes into the newspapers and TV news, you get a second BIG exposure.

And if EVER again there is another message you feel passionate about, just rinse and repeat! The recipe works as long as there are authorities that complain. And in case there is no complaining authorities anymore. don’t worry, the message just stays where it is and that way still has some effect.

Sooo smart! :-) The controversial message was “Repeal the 8th!” and the Charities’ Regulator says it breaks the rule that forbids charities to engage in political activities. The artist is Maser and the removal will happen on Monday morning at 11:00.

 

The Tide has turned: Eighth Amendment!

The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution from 1983 puts the right to life of the unborn on an equal standing with the mother’s right to life and is a hard fought over legal clause. The opponents are mainly the “Pro Choice” campaigners and the group that fights for the keeping of this clause are on the Anti-Abortion side. Interestingly though, that clause doesn’t mention abortion at all and its removal would not automatically mean that abortion is legalised, but as long as it is in the constitution it indirectly makes abortion illegal.

For that reason – and this is the only point the two groups agree on – the Anti-Abortion campaigners are convinced that a change of the Eighth Amendment will open the doors for abortion, something they are determined to fight as hard as possible. The Pro-Choice side also is of the opinion that the change (or removal) of the Eighth Amendment will legalise abortion.

In April 2017, the Citizen Assembly, a group of 99 Irish citizens who had the job to decide about what to do with this clause in the constitution because the political parties were too cowardly to make a decision, voted that the clause should be replaced or amended, but not removed. They further decided that abortion should be regulated in the normal body of law and NOT in the constitution. This was a very sensible approach many think. It is not at all an automatic legalisation of abortion, but removes a clause from the constitution that shouldn’t have never been put in there, because constitutions should be a lot more on a foundation level and not get into details.

The public opinion is very much divided about abortion in general and the two sides are so deeply opposed that no compromise will ever be possible.

A referendum will have to decide what happens with the Eighth Amendment and that referendum will happen in the summer as it seems. Most importantly it will NOT be a referendum about abortion, but only about the future of that clause in the constitution.

Until now it was very unclear what the outcome of the referendum might be. Opinion polls seem to indicate a majority for a form of repeal of the clause, but opinion polls can be very unreliable and since the main politicians hadn’t declared their opinion about it, there were still a LOT of question marks over the decision of their party followers.

It seems however that the tide has turned now! Michael Martin, the leader of Fianna Fail, has changed his opinion and is now in favour of removing the clause and Leo Varadkar, the leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach, has indicated that he also supports the removal of the clause. The opinion of the two party leaders doesn’t mean that the referendum is now more or less decided. The opinions in the public don’t usually swing with the political leaders and they both have made clear that they will not tell their parliamentarians how to decide, but will allow a free vote. On the other hand, though, the clear declaration by both in favour of removing the clause from the constitution is a significant event in the process.

It should be noted for people that are not fully aware of the “Irish solution” to the abortion problem, that the clause never stopped abortion! Instead, women who felt that an an abortion was their only option, travelled to the UK for it. So it was a totally ineffective clause in the constitution!

Please note that the above description focuses on the Eighth Amendment and does NOT discuss the pros and cons of abortion AT ALL, I am also intentionally not taking any sides on abortion it is a MUCH to complex issue for this publication and this section. But I realised in the last six months through questions that people who only came to Ireland in recent years asked me, that the confusion about the Eighth Referendum is HUGE and since it has always been an oddity to me that the constitution covers this one singled out topic while while other very relevant aspect are not considered there, I decided to write about it.

If you asked me, I would be happy to state that it is my opinion that the Eighth Amendment should be removed because I think the laws of a country should deal with all legal issues and abortion belongs in this category.

You disagree? I 100% respect your opinion and I hope you respect mine. The good news for you – if you disagree – is, that I won’t be allowed to vote in the referendum. So don’t worry about me or my opinion. :-)

You can send me your opinion if you feel like it, but don’t expect an answer from me. I am not interested in discussing the pros or cons of abortion!

 
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