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A Different Voice

Statement from over 100 legal professionals on the May referendum

Statement from over 100 legal professionals on the May referendum

Below is a copy of the statement set forth by members of the legal profession in defence of the life of the child in the womb and in support of upholding the Eighth Amendment. Fifty additional signatures have since been obtained and the list will be updated accordingly.


In Article 40.3.3° of the Constitution of Ireland (“the Eighth Amendment”) the State “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

The Eighth Amendment respects the right to life of mothers. As its wording makes clear, it protects the right to life of the unborn only to the extent that such protection is consistent with the right to life of the mother.

In the recent case of M –v- Minister for Justice and Equality, the Supreme Court has held that the rights of the unborn under the Constitution are limited to those rights which are acknowledged in the Eighth Amendment.

Accordingly, the repeal of the Eighth Amendment would entail the removal from the Constitution of the existing acknowledgment of the right to life of the unborn and the removal of constitutional protection for the unborn boy or girl in the womb.

If the Eighth Amendment is repealed, the Government has signalled its intention to place legislation before the Oireachtas. The proposed legislation would allow the life of the unborn to be ended for any reason up until twelve weeks, and far beyond that on grounds which have led to abortion on demand in other jurisdictions. In addition, such limitations on abortion as may be set in the legislation could be removed at any time without the consent of the People.

It is clear, therefore, that what is being proposed is not simply abortion in exceptional cases but a wide-ranging right to abortion.

Each person was, by definition, once unborn. As we mature, our capacity to assert and enjoy rights may increase over time. Likewise, our capacity may decrease due to serious illness, old age or other reason. At all stages, however, born and unborn, we remain the same human being with the same inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights. These human rights rest on the foundation-stone of the right to life. Life is the constant which makes the exercise of every other human right possible.

As lawyers drawn from every level of the profession, both currently in practise and those now working in other fields, we hope that, having considered what is at stake in the coming referendum and the far-reaching proposals of Government, our society will conclude that it would be profoundly unjust to withdraw the existing constitutional protections from the unborn child or to give Government the power that they seek to legislate in this area.

Signed :

Aindrias Ó Caoimh, Senior Counsel
Former Judge of the High Court of Ireland and former Judge of the European Court of Justice

Áine Grogan, Barrister

Alan Davoren, Solicitor

Ann Daly, Solicitor

Beata Kozłowska BA (Hons) , MSc, DPSI, DLSP

Benedict Ó Floinn, M.A. (Oxon) Barrister
Author of Practice and Procedure in the Superior Courts

Brendan Guildea, Barrister Byron Wade, Barrister Caitríona Heffernan, BA (Hons) LLB

Caroline Simons, BCL., LLM, MA, Solicitor

Cathy Maguire, BA, Barrister

Dr. Ciarán Creaven, Senior Counsel

David Burke, BA (Oxon) MA (London) Solicitor Declan Lawlor, Solicitor

Denis Linehan, Solicitor

Donal Ryan, BCL, LL.M., Barrister

Eamon Galligan, BA(Mod), M.R.U.P., Senior Counsel Eamon Marray, B.A. LL.B., Barrister

Edward O’Leary, Solicitor

Eilís Mulroy, Solicitor

Eileen King, Solicitor

Elizabeth Maguire, MA, LL.B., M.Litt., Barrister Elizabeth O’Connell, Senior Counsel

Eoin Murnaghan, Barrister

Erwan Mill-Arden, Senior Counsel Evana Boyle, BCL, LLM, Solicitor Feargal P. Kavanagh, Senior Counsel Fintan Lawlor, Solicitor

Frank Martin, Barrister

Garvan Corkery, Barrister

Geoffrey Sumner, Barrister

George A. Brady, Senior Counsel

Gerard N. Murphy, Barrister

Professor Gerard F Whyte BCL, LLM, LL.D., BL, MA FTCD. School of Law, Trinity College Dublin

Professor Gerard Casey, BA (Cork) MA, PhD (Notre Dame) LLB. LLM.
Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy at University College Dublin and Former member of the governing body of University College, Dublin.

Graham Quinn, LLB, Barrister

Hilary O’Doherty, BA (Hons) Solicitor

Iarfhlaith O Neill, Senior Counsel
Former Judge of the High Court of Ireland and Chairman of the Referendum Commission (Lisbon Treaty)

Ita Marnell, Barrister

James Charity, Barrister

Joan M. Hynes, Barrister

John Reid, BCL Dip. Eur. L KCHS, Solicitor

John T. Gibbons, BE, C.Eng., FIEI, FCI Arb, Senior Counsel Joseph Cuddigan, Solicitor

Dr. Joseph Richardson, Ph.D., M.B.A (Healthcare), Dip. EmpL., M.I.C.S., Barrister Kate O’Toole, Barrister

Kate T. O’Mahony, Barrister

Ken Fogarty, Senior Counsel

Ken Smyth, Solicitor Kieron Wood, Barrister

Killian McMorrow, B.Comm., Dip.Int.Human Rights Law, Dip.Int.Human Rights and Criminal Procedure, Barrister

Laura O’Toole, Barrister

Liam Dockery, BA., Barrister

Liz McDermott, LLB Solicitor One Day More

Lorcan E. Price, Barrister

Louis Dockery, BA DLS RTMA Dip. Ecomm., Solicitor Margaret Rowley, Solicitor

Margaret Cordial, MSc (Int. Human Rights Law NUIG) Barrister, Solicitor Formerly with the UN High Commission for Human Rights and Advisory Counsel with the Attorney-General’s Office. Author of Circuit Court Rules : Practice and Procedure

Margaret O’Shea-Grewcock, Solicitor

Maria Pittock, Solicitor Maria Steen, Barrister Martin Mulroy, Solicitor Mary Faulkner

Former Dean of the School of Law, King’s Inns, Dublin

Michael Patwell, Solicitor
Former Judge of the District Court of Ireland

Mortimer Kelleher, Solicitor Neil Kelly, Barrister

Niall Doyle, Solicitor

Nicola Davoren, Solicitor

Olivia Doyle, Solicitor

Patrick J. Barrett, Barrister

Patrick J. Feeney, Solicitor

Paul Brady, BA, MA, LLM, DPhil, Barrister Paul McGettigan, Barrister

Roderick Maguire, LL.B., LL.M.(Lond), M.A (Lond), Barrister Seán Davin, Barrister

Sheila O’Riordan, Barrister

Siobhán Daly, Solicitor

Tabitha Wood, BCL. Barrister Theresa Lowe, Barrister

Former Television and Radio Presenter with Radio Teilifís Éireann

Terry O’Driscoll, Barrister

Úna Ní Chatháin, Barrister

Venetia Taylor, LL.B., LL.M., Barrister Vincent Toher, Solicitor

Virginia Harrington, Solicitor

William Binchy, Barrister
Former Regius Professor of Laws, Trinity College, Dublin and Member of the Irish Human Rights Commission

William F. O’Brien, Barrister

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