Ex-Attorneys General and ex-Supreme Court justice call for repeal of the Eighth

Two former Attorneys General and a former Supreme Court justice yesterday launched a joint appeal for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment.

A press event in Dublin city centre heard from Michael McDowell SC, former Justice Minister, Attorney General and Tánaiste; former Attorney General John Rogers; and former Supreme Court justice, Mr Justice Catherine McGuinness.

The event also saw the launch of the Lawyers for Yes database of over 530 lawyers in Ireland supporting a Yes vote on May 25th.

In a joint statement, the three senior legal figures said the prospect of an alternative constitutional amendment or wording to deal with the “hard cases” involving rape of incest was “not workable”.

They said it would “require an inquiry procedure that would be incompatible with the timescale for the resolution of the woman’s crisis” and would lead to “unwieldy litigation with uncertainty of outcome”.

Repealing the Eighth Amendment, they said, is “critically important to ensure girls and women will be able to access uninhibited medical advice and treatment from their doctors”.

Lawyers for Yes spokesperson Grainne Gilmore, who chaired the event, said: “I welcome this joint statement by three of the most experienced and highly regarded legal minds in the country. In 1982 they predicted that this Amendment would be disastrous for women in Ireland. Thirty-five years later their fears are proved right.

“I am also pleased to officially unveil a national database of signatures from lawyers in Ireland who are publicly supporting a yes vote. To date, 536 lawyers have signed the online petition and this number is growing steadily, with more adding their names to the list every day.

“This show of strength from Ireland’s legal community for repealing the 8th amendment is indicative of the growing consensus of support for a Yes vote in the country.”