I am an Irish man in my mid 40's and I am disillusioned with my country. I earn a decent wage, can provide for my family, and have a good standard of living. We have peace on the island of Ireland, and all all of Ireland should be a happy place. But I am not happy. Overnight, I watched as the United States Senate blocked a bill to allow babies born alive after botched abortions to receive care. Since May 2018, I have closed off the part of me that hurts when the talk turns to abortion. If I think about the horror, gore, and violence against small babies, then I am not going to enjoy today. I want to enjoy today, spend time with my son, and love life, but the world has changed for the worse in my lifetime. Abortion is a dark cloud that will take a long time to move. But it can be moved.
In 2011, Ireland's traditional second party came to power: Fine Gael. None of us could have foreseen the changes they would bring in eight short years. The current health minister, Simon Harris, remains in his position despite heading a national children’s hospital building project now being triple the original budget. Harris’ office has failed to protect over two hundred women who were given incorrect cervical smear results and now stare death in the face. His office turns a blind eye to children who are in dire need of operations to address Scoliosis conditions. The numbers of people, particularly the elderly, who spend time on trolleys in hospitals is around 700 daily. On every single metric by which this minister could be measured, he is an abject failure. But Harris keeps his job because he ”delivered” abortion in 2018.
The leader of the Fine Gael Party is Leo Varadkar. Varadkar is on excellent terms with the European Union and Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister. Both Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris held strong pro-life views until they came to power. Harris was appointed Health Minister at age 29 without any formal qualifications for the role. The leader of Fine Gael at the time saw Harris as an up-and-coming member of the party. They handed Harris the biggest job in Irish politics, which was in itself a statement of where they placed health on the priority list. Would a major European or U.S. sports team give their biggest job to someone with no experience? Yet, somehow our ”leaders” thought this was a good idea.
The Children's minister, Katherine Zappone, has been linked on a number of occasions to practicing witchcraft. As a parent, I feel sick at the thoughts of Ireland handing such an important position to someone who indulges in such practices. All three Fine Gael Ministers mentioned were leading campaigns to bring abortion to Ireland. Despite the waiting lists for sick children to be treated, Simon Harris' office pays doctors 450 euro to terminate pregnancies, which is free to the public. A government that prioritizes ending lives over saving and preserving them really has to be questioned. However, questioned they are not, as since 2016 Fine Gael has tightened its grip on Ireland through some planned and unplanned events.
In the 2016 Irish General Election, Fine Gael could only form a coalition with Ireland's traditionally best supported party, Fianna Fáil. Sworn enemies of the Irish civil war, seeing how these two parties have basically morphed into one to stay in power has been staggering. Fianna Fáil no longer challenges Fine Gael on anything major, citing Brexit as the reason. This allowed Fine Gael to push through abortion legislation without challenge. The result was a small band in independent members of parliament fighting valiantly for the rights of the unborn. When people like Michael Healy Rae, Mattie McGrath, Carol Nolan, and Ronan Mullen were passionately seeking for pain relief for babies who die in abortions or care for babies who survive later term abortions, the Health Minister showed an alarming lack of maturity. By sneering at the independents, rolling his eyes to the sky, and effectively laughing at them, he was displaying all his contempt for the pro-life cause—the same pro-life cause that he claimed to support in a letter to a Constituent in 2011, a letter aimed at getting him elected.
Fine Gael have also hired highly skilled members of the Independent and State media to join their party. Former Newstalk radio anchor Chris Donoghue is now an advisor to Simon Coveney, Leo Varadkar's number two. On Chris Donoghue's Twitter page, he campaigned feverishly to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, to allow abortion in Ireland. On the same Twitter feed, he jokes with Fine Gael ministers about planting stories in the media. Fine Gael are currently in a mode of doing what they want as neither opposition nor media will challenge them effectively. In their latest wisdom, they have used up all of the 2019 budget for new and existing drugs, meaning that those suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy will not get free access to the drug Spinraza, which would help with their condition. When we look at Fine Gael's policies towards housing (homeless levels in Ireland at an all-time high) and care, it is clear that those items are a long way from the top of the priority list. Abortion was clearly their number one priority, and with a 12 million euro budget for ”abortion services” in 2019, other areas of care have to make do while seeing that vast sum flow towards the destruction of life.
Fine Gael also imposed the current abortion model on General Practitioners without consultation. Pro-life GPs in particular were left voiceless in this debate. Even GPs who are willing to participate in abortion services” admitted that they were not prepared for the rollout of the legislation. As with many other topics, Fine Gael's way of working is to just impose their ruling on others. Irish Hospitals have now began to advertise for surgical professionals with cleverly worded advertisements discouraging pro-life professionals to apply. This is still dressed up as ”care” and ”compassion,” but the reality is that preborn babies are being killed in Ireland. While some pro-life GPs have spoken out, Simon Harris refuses to meet them. The maturity of a professional can be measured when they face someone with a different point of view in a debate. Yet, all he continues to do is ignore, mock, put down, and push forward with his plans in a ruthless fashion. The destruction and loss of morale he has wreaked on the Irish Health Service is immeasurable and may take years to recover from.
In 2015, Fine Gael led the campaign in a referendum to allow same sex marriage. Personally, I voted yes for this. Now, I really do wonder if that was the right thing to do. While I have no issue with anyone who is homosexual or wants to be married, it now looks like in hindsight that the same sex marriage vote was a stepping stone in a much bigger liberal agenda. Within three years of the same sex marriage vote, Fine Gael had delivered abortion to its offering. Was the same sex marriage vote a loosening up of liberal views? There has not been a major increase in same sex marriages since the vote. When two of the key players who delivered abortion,Varadkar and Harris, were both originally pro-life, what changed their views?
Shakespeare wrote, ”The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.”
Never has that line been so true than with both of these men. Since Varadkar's ascension to the leadership of the party, he has run it more like a dictatorship than a democracy. The spending on media including his ”weekly address” to Ireland has gone from 15,000 euro annually under the previous leader Enda Kenny to 1.75 million euro under Varadkar. That is a staggering increase, but with someone like Chris Donoghue on board, who is so in tune with media and how to win the hearts and minds of the voters, a lot falls into place.
The manner in which Fine Gael led the Irish people to vote yes to abortion in 2018 was scary. Like any group who wants to get public sympathy first, they need to convince those undecided that there is a victim to be protected. They convinced young people that aborting a baby would set them free.
I personally had a conversation with a female relative, twenty years my junior who had bought the Fine Gael line. Within a minute, she had rattled off the Fine Gael mantra ”Rape, Force, Choice.” Once you convince the masses that they are the victim and that killing is a necessity, then you have a very powerful movement behind you. While many people who voted yes are friends of mine, I genuinely don't believe they know what abortion involves. The government ignored the warnings of pro-life groups. Fine Gael had a result in mind, and nothing was going to stop them.
These days, I am not proud of Ireland. The love of our soccer and rugby teams and the love of the tricolour it is still there, but a tiny ember remains of what was once a smouldering fire. Fine Gael have destroyed some of the great things about being Irish. The pro-life ethos is gone. One religion is being constantly attacked. (I am not religious, but the hammering the Catholic Church takes in comparison to other groups is disproportionate). There is no longer any reason to trust the Irish media. There are so many links between Fine Gael and state/independent media that there is no point in listening to radio or watching TV anymore. Major stations will report in line with Government policy. However, the biggest surprise of all, one that caused a sickening feeling, was not from media or government. It was from one of the women who is dying as a result of the cervical smear test scandal. She praised the Health Minister Simon Harris for his work in repealing the Eighth Amendment. She touted him as a future Taoiseach (Prime Minister). A woman whose death was sealed by the Health Ministry praised the Health Minister because he is facilitating death for others.
I know pro-life groups in the United States are devastated by the vote on babies born alive in abortions. But in Ireland, things are no better. We have been worn down by the Fine Gael-led Government so much that by admitting to being pro-life in Ireland people treat you like a freak. To me, killing a beautiful baby in the womb is what is freak. But in eight short years, this is what Fine Gael have normalized.
Care and compassion is now seen as destroying a life, not saving or preserving it. The Ireland I used to love is gone. One day it may return. But while key ministries are held by the aforementioned, I am not hopeful.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.