Mayo county councillors yesterday voted “not to take a position” on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, the subject of the Referendum that takes place on Friday week.
Independent councillor Gerry Ginty proposed that councillors support the retention of the Eighth Amendment and called on voters of Mayo to vote No on the 25th of May.
However, his motion was defeated as a counter proposal was put forward by Fine Gael’s Jarleth Munnelly calling on the councillors not to take a position on the matter, and that proposal was carried
The decision by councillors not to take a position on the Eighth amendment was only arrived at after extensive debate.
Cllr Ginty made his proposal calling on voters across the county to support the retention of the Eighth amendment , by voting No on the 25th, and that was supported by Independent cllr Frank Durcan. Both cllrs outlined in detail why they believe the eighth amendment as it stands is necessary.
Cllr Ginty said that every public representative should be prepared to state publicly how they will be voting.
Cllr Durcan outlined his opposition to abortion saying that there are preservation orders on everything from bats to elephants but not on human life, if the Eighth amendment is abolished.
Cllr Jarleth Munnelly said while he respected the views of both cllrs - it was not up to cllrs to come down on either side in this debate and added it was the right of any cllr not to give his/her view on this matter.
He then put forward the counter proposal calling on councillors not to take a position on the issue.
Independent cllr Seamus Weir argued that while the Eighth Amendment had not protected women like it should, he would rather see it amended rather than abolished.
Sinn Fein’s Joe McHale spoke in favour of abolishing the Eighth amendment saying women needed to take the power back into their own hands.
FG’s Tereasa McGuire said she would not preach to anyone, and said it was a personal choice and called for sensitivity in the debate.
FF’S Michael Smyth outlined his opposition to abolishing the Eighth amendment and spoke of threatening emails that he and other cllrs had received from members of the public – simply because the motion was on the council agenda. He said the state had let down women in the past and questioned giving the state back power if the Eighth amendment is abolished.
Finally a vote was taken, and all cllrs present, opted not to take a position on the matter, with the exception of cllrs Ginty and Durcan who voted against, and cllr Weir abstained.