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Members of Eighth Amendment Committee receive letter warning of 'excommunication'

Senator Lynn Ruane said she’d never seen that level of detail in a package sent to her office before.

SOME OF THE members of the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee received a package today, containing a letter explaining that supporting the repeal of the Eighth would mean automatic excommunication from the Catholic Church.

Also included was a framed picture of Jesus, alongside a gospel quote.

Recipients of the letter included Senators Lynn Ruane and Jerry Buttimer.

Ruane told TheJournal.ie that while she has received similar correspondence before, “it’s never been in that kind of detail”.

She added that this was the first time she’d received such a letter since the Eighth Amendment Committee began.

“It’s like you took it [the frame] straight off the wall,” she said. “And I’m surprised because it’s not only members of the Eighth Committee that received them.”

A quick scan of Irish political Twitter shows that TDs Paul Murphy and Joan Collins were among public representatives not on the committee to have also received the same packages. Not all committee members had received them today.

Collins told TheJournal.ie that she has received similar letters before, but that this was particularly “elaborate”.

“I think it’s probably because of my record,” she said. The Dublin South Central TD is a vocal campaigner for the Eighth to be repealed.

The thing with things like this is that I think it’s a portent of things to come. That’s the ideology behind this debate. It doesn’t really affect me, though.

Ruane added that she had received communications telling her that she would be excommunicated as far back as her days as President of the Trinity College Student’s Union.

Tomorrow, the committee will examine issues around the Eighth Amendment that are linked to mental health.

A psychiatrist who was due to appear before the committee tomorrow will no longer do so. Patricia Casey, a professor at UCD’s Department of Adult Psychiatry and a consultant psychiatrist at the Mater Hospital, accused the committee of being biased and giving preference to pro-choice speakers.

Casey is also a patron of the Iona Institute, which has a pro-life stance.

Last week, three medical experts told the committee they believe the Eighth Amendment is not fit for purpose.

The committee then voted to recommend that the Eighth Amendment should not be retained in full, meaning it will recommend a referendum be held.

Senator Ronan Mullen and TD Mattie McGrath opposed the vote taking place, calling it a “farce”. They wanted the vote to be deferred until all witnesses have been heard.

With reporting from Órla Ryan

Read: Psychiatrist pulls out of Eighth Amendment Committee appearance

Read: As it happened: ‘The Eighth has caused endless problems, you need to legislate’

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Sean Murray

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