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"The eighth amendment hasn't been voted upon in my lifetime. That's long enough"

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock says the time has come for Ireland to vote on whether or not to repeal the eighth amendment to the constitution.

pjimage Source: Rollingnews.ie

A COUPLE OF months back TheJournal.ie ran an audit of all the country’s newly-elected TDs to see how they felt about any prospective referendum on the eighth amendment.

28-year-old Fine Gael first-timer Noel Rock was one of those who didn’t reply. You might think he is on the fence about the subject. He would hardly be the only one – 52% of Dáil Éireann didn’t reply at the time.

It’s a thorny subject (and political minefield) here to put it mildly.

So when TheJournal.ie spoke to Rock (who has been to the forefront of criticism of the OCI with regard to the ticket-touting-in-Rio controversy) for this weekend’s Sunday Interview, we weren’t expecting him to be especially forthcoming on the subject. But it seems he thinks it’s past time Ireland voted on one of the most divisive subjects in the State’s history.

“We have to have a referendum, it’s time we voted on it,” he says. “I was born in 1987 – we’ve never voted on it in my lifetime. So it’s gone on long enough. It’s getting a bit strange at this stage.”

How would he vote in the event of a referendum?

20160818_154843 Noel Rock Source: TheJournal.ie

“That depends on the wording, and on what would replace the eighth amendment were it to pass,” he says.

Not to sound like a man with two pints, but I’ve met a number of women who had to carry to term when they knew their child had a fatal foetal abnormality (FFA). How do you face them with the situation as it is?
In the case of rape, in the case of incest, FFAs, there are arguments to be made in favour of change.

Rock is in favour of an expert commission to look into the details of the constitution and how any referendum would be phrased, similar to that convened in advance of last year’s referendum on same-sex marriage.

“There’s something to be said for taking a hundred people and really digging deeply into an issue,” he says.

But would a referendum pass?

“It depends on what the question is.” If allowances are made for FFAs and rape, say? “I think there’s a very strong likelihood it would pass in that case, yes.”

But if you’d told me a month before the Seanad referendum that it would survive, I would have put my house on that not being the case. Yet it’s still there. So it can be hard to judge. When you’re in politics you need to be able to see the wood for the trees.
  • Read the full interview with Noel Rock on TheJournal.ie tomorrow at 7.45am.

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