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Archive for the ‘United Republic of Ireland’ Category

Wildfire uncovers hidden World War II-era landmark

August 06, 2018

BRAY HEAD, Ireland (AP) — A wildfire in Ireland has uncovered a World War II-era landmark that was hidden for years by undergrowth. An Irish police air unit spotted the word Eire, which means Ireland, while surveying the damage caused by a fire on Bray Head. More than 80 such signs were created during the war to alert pilots that they were flying over a neutral country.

The Irish Air Corps says the Bray Head sign was No. 8. Volunteers have restored some of the signs that were in plain view.

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Ireland to discuss bill banning Israel settlement produce

June 28, 2018

Ireland’s parliament will discuss a bill promoting a ban on Israeli settlement goods next month, after a postponement in January, reported Haaretz.

In a tweet posted yesterday, Irish Senator Frances Black announced “on July 11th, my bill to ban illegal #SettlementGoods is in the Seanad”.

Black added: “We’re close to a historic move for justice in #Palestine, but I need your help! Plz take 2m to ask your TDs & Senators to support the bill.”

The senator also posted a video urging Irish citizens to tell their lawmakers to back the initiative to boycott produce made in Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Haaretz notes that “the discussion at the Irish senate regarding the bill was postponed in January after Ireland’s Ambassador to Israel, Alison Kelly, was summoned for a talk at the Foreign Ministry to clarify the legislative initiative at the demand of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Read: Ireland’s book of condolence for Palestinians killed in Gaza blocked by pro-Israel groups

Kelly told Netanyahu that the Irish government actually opposed the bill, and subsequently informed Rodica Radian-Gordon, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Western Europe, “that the bill was not a Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement-linked initiative”.

At the time, slamming the bill, Netanyahu said its sole purpose was to “support the BDS movement and hurt the State of Israel”. The Prime Minister’s Office stated that the bill “backed those who wish to boycott Israel and completely opposes the guiding principles of free trade and justice”.

As recalled by Haaretz, “a group of Israeli activists, among whom were former Knesset members, lawyers, former ambassadors, artists and academics, penned a letter asking Irish lawmakers to support the bill” in January.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180628-ireland-to-discuss-bill-banning-israel-settlement-produce/.

Some Irish Catholics worried, dismayed after abortion vote

May 27, 2018

DUBLIN (AP) — Irish Catholics attending Sunday Mass were disappointed with the result of a referendum in which voters opted to legalize abortion and think it reflects the weakening of the Church — a situation that was unthinkable in Ireland a generation ago.

There was no mention of the referendum during the sermon at St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral, but it was weighing heavily on the minds of some worshipers as they left the Mass in central Dublin. Ireland voted by a roughly two-to-one margin Friday to end a constitutional ban on abortion, and parliament is expected to approve a more liberal set of laws governing the termination of pregnancies.

Some worshipers said the overwhelming victory of abortion rights activists seeking the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the constitution reflects a weakening of the Catholic Church’s historic influence and fills them with dread for Ireland’s future.

“I think the ‘yes’ vote was an anti-Church vote,” said Annemarie McCarrick, referring to the “yes” vote in favor of ending the constitutional ban. The 52-year-old lecturer said on the cathedral steps that a series of sex abuse scandals had undermined the influence of the Church in Ireland. She said the Church had in recent weeks taken a “quiet” stand against repeal, but hadn’t been able to sway people.

“I am religious but the Church has definitely lost influence here because of the scandals,” she said. “The people will not take direction from the Church anymore. It’s hard for the Church to have credibility.”

Recent census figures show a small decline in the number of Catholics in Ireland, but it remains by far the dominant religion. Frank Gaynor, a 75-year-old retiree, said after the Mass that he never imagined the vote in favor of abortion rights would be so lopsided.

He said he was troubled by the way the “yes” campaign used the case of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist who died of sepsis during a prolonged miscarriage after being denied an abortion in Galway in 2012, to drum up support for repeal.

“I was disappointed to see the tragic death of Savita being shamelessly used as an excuse for introducing abortion into a country,” he said. “That was a sepsis issue that was mishandled. Not an Eighth Amendment issue.”

He felt alienated by the campaign: “It’s extraordinary the way the campaign focused so much on ‘me, me, me,’ the rights of the mother, and very little mention of the unborn child. That was sidelined.”

With the vote decided, attention is turning to Ireland’s parliament, which will make new laws to govern abortions. The referendum vote ended a harsh anti-abortion regime enacted in 1983 that required doctors to regard the rights of a fetus, from the moment of conception, as equal to the rights of the mother.

In practice, it meant Irish women had to travel abroad for terminations. The nationwide rejection of the amendment represented a growing tolerance on social issues in the traditionally Roman Catholic country.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar hailed the vote as bringing a new era to Ireland. He said it will be remembered as “the day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light. The day we came of age as a country. The day we took our place among the nations of the world.”

His government will propose that abortions be permissible in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It isn’t yet clear what strategy abortion opponents will use in parliament in light of the unexpectedly large vote in favor of repeal. Some opposition figures have indicated they won’t block legislation because they must respect the public will.

The decisive outcome of the landmark referendum was cast as a historic victory for women’s rights. Exit polls indicated that the repeal was endorsed in urban and rural areas alike, with strong support from both men and women.

Backing for repeal was highest among young voters, including many who returned from jobs or universities in continental Europe to vote, but was also high among every age group except those 65 or older.

Since 1983, the Eighth Amendment had forced women seeking to terminate pregnancies to go abroad for abortions, bear children conceived through rape or incest, or take risky illegal measures at home.

Irish turn attention to parliament as abortion ban voted out

May 27, 2018

DUBLIN (AP) — Attention is turning Sunday to Ireland’s parliament now that the country’s citizens have voted in landslide numbers to remove the abortion ban from its constitution. It will be up to parliament to make new laws to govern abortions now that the public has rejected the constitution’s Eighth Amendment in a referendum Friday.

The nearly two-to-one vote ended a harsh anti-abortion regime enacted in 1983. It required doctors to regard the rights of a fetus, from the moment of conception, as equal to the rights of the mother.

In practice, it meant Irish women had to travel abroad for terminations. The nationwide rejection of the amendment represented a growing tolerance on social issues in the traditionally Roman Catholic country.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar hailed the vote as bringing a new era to Ireland. He said it will be remembered as “the day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light. The day we came of age as a country. The day we took our place among the nations of the world.”

His government will propose that abortions be permissible in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It isn’t yet clear what strategy abortion opponents will use in parliament in light of the unexpectedly large vote in favor of repeal.

Some expect a bruising fight in parliament, where there is strong opposition to reform in some quarters, but a more conciliatory debate is also possible. The decisive outcome of the landmark referendum was cast as a historic victory for women’s rights. Exit polls indicated that the repeal was endorsed in urban and rural areas alike, with strong support from both men and women.

Backing for repeal was highest among young voters, including many who returned from jobs or universities in continental Europe to vote, but was also high among every age group except those 65 or older.

Since 1983, the Eighth Amendment had forced women seeking to terminate pregnancies to go abroad for abortions, bear children conceived through rape or incest, or take risky illegal measures at home.

Prime minister, abortion rights groups claim win in Ireland

May 26, 2018

DUBLIN (AP) — Abortion rights activists proclaimed victory for social justice Saturday as exit polls and early results indicated Ireland had voted overwhelmingly to repeal a 1983 constitutional ban on abortions.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, speaking Saturday before official results were announced, said it appeared that voters chose to liberalize Ireland’s strict laws on abortion — only allowed when a woman’s life is at risk — by a more than two-to-one margin.

“The people have spoken,” said Varadkar, a medical doctor who campaigned for repeal in Friday’s historic referendum. “The people have said that we want a modern constitution for a modern country, that we trust women and we respect them to make the right decision and the right choices about their health care.”

Calling the result a culmination of a “quiet revolution” that had been gaining strength in the last 20 years, Varadkar said the large margin of victory will give his government a greater mandate when enacting new abortion legislation through parliament.

Campaigners who have fought for more than three decades to remove the eighth amendment abortion ban from Ireland’s constitution hailed the referendum vote as a major breakthrough in a largely Catholic nation that has already seen a wave of social liberalization in recent years.

“This is a monumental day for women in Ireland,” said Orla O’Connor, co-director of the Together for Yes group. “This is about women taking their rightful place in Irish society, finally.” The vote is a “rejection of an Ireland that treated women as second-class citizens,” she said, adding: “This is about women’s equality and this day brings massive change, monumental change for women in Ireland, and there is no going back.”

Official counting for Friday’s referendum on whether or not to liberalize Ireland’s abortion laws was still under way, and final results are not expected until later Saturday. But exit polls from the Irish Times and broadcaster RTE suggest the Irish people have voted by nearly 70 percent to repeal the eighth amendment, which requires authorities to treat a fetus and its mother as equals under the law.

Early results declared Saturday afternoon pointed to a landslide win for abortion rights campaigners across the country. The first constituency to declare — traditionally conservative Galway East — returned a 60 percent vote to repeal the abortion ban. Results from urban centers were even more decisive. Dublin Central posted 76.5 percent for repeal, while two constituencies in the southern capital of Cork City polled 64 percent and almost 69 percent.

Opponents of the repeal movement have conceded they have no chance of victory. John McGuirk, spokesman for the Save the 8th group, told Irish television Saturday that many Irish citizens will not recognize the country they are waking up in. The group said on its website that Irish voters have created a “tragedy of historic proportions,” but McGuirk said the vote must be respected.

“You can still passionately believe that the decision of the people is wrong, as I happen to do, and accept it,” he said. If the projected numbers hold up, the referendum would likely end the need for thousands of Irish women to travel abroad — mostly to neighboring Britain — for abortions they can’t get at home.

Ireland’s parliament will be charged with coming up with new abortion laws in the coming months. The government proposes to allow abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, with later terminations allowed in some cases.

Katherine Zappone, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, said she is confident new abortion legislation can be approved by parliament and put in place before the end of the year. “I feel very emotional,” she said. “I’m especially grateful to the women of Ireland who came forward to provide their personal testimony about the hard times that they endured, the stress and the trauma that they experienced because of the eighth amendment.”

The magnitude of the predicted victory exceeded the expectations of abortion rights activists. Surprisingly, they also suggest that supporters of more liberal abortion laws may have triumphed throughout the country, not just in the cosmopolitan capital, Dublin, where a strong youth vote had been anticipated.

The RTE exit poll of 3,779 voters predicts support for the “yes” vote in urban areas to be about 72 percent, with rural support at about 63 percent. It indicates about 72 percent of women voted “yes” along with about 66 percent of men. The strongest backing came from youthful voters — the exit poll says the only age group in which a majority voted “no” were voters who are 65 or older. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percent.

Leo Enright contributed.

Ireland: Exit polls predict win for repealing abortion ban

May 26, 2018

DUBLIN (AP) — Official counting began Saturday in Ireland’s historic abortion rights referendum, with two exit polls predicting an overwhelming victory for those seeking to end the country’s strict ban.

The Irish Times and RTE television exit polls suggest the Irish people have voted overwhelmingly to repeal a 1983 constitutional amendment that requires authorities to treat a fetus and its mother as equals under the law. That effectively bans abortions, and currently, terminations are only allowed when a woman’s life is at risk.

The exit polls are predictions only, with official results expected to be announced Saturday afternoon. Paper ballots must be counted and tallied. If the projected numbers hold up, the referendum would be a landmark in Irish women’s fight for abortion rights and a key turning point for a largely Catholic nation that has seen a wave of liberalization in recent years. It would also likely end the need for thousands of Irish women to travel abroad — mostly to neighboring Britain — for abortions.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who campaigned for repeal, did not claim victory based on the exit polls but seemed very confident late Friday night. “Thank you to everyone who voted today. Democracy in action. It’s looking like we will make history tomorrow,” he said in a tweet after the exit polls were released.

Both exit polls project that the “yes” vote to repeal the ban to be nearly 70 percent. Surprisingly, they also suggest that supporters of more liberal abortion laws may have triumphed throughout the country, not just in the cosmopolitan capital, Dublin, where a strong youth vote had been anticipated.

The RTE exit poll of 3,779 voters predicts support for the “yes” vote in urban areas to be about 72 percent, with rural support at about 63 percent. It indicates about 72 percent of women voted “yes” along with about 66 percent of men. The strongest backing came from youthful voters — the exit poll says the only age group in which a majority voted “no” were voters who are 65 or older. The poll has a margin of error of 1.6 percent.

The magnitude of the predicted victory exceeds the expectations of abortion rights activists, but prominent opponent of repeal Cora Sherlock said the exit polls, if accurate, “paint a very sad state of affairs.”

She said the “pro-life movement will rise to any challenge it faces” and resist what she called the trend toward abortion on demand. If the “yes” forces seeking a constitutional change prevail, Ireland’s parliament will be charged with coming up with new abortion laws.

The government proposes to allow abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy with later terminations allowed in some cases. If confirmed by the official tally, the large margin of victory predicted by the exit polls would greatly strengthen the government’s hand when dealing with abortion opponents in parliament.

Irish pubs open on Good Friday for 1st time in 90 years

March 30, 2018

DUBLIN (AP) — Guinness is flowing in Irish pubs on a Good Friday for the first time in 90 years. Lines of people were reported as pubs opened at 7 a.m. to serve alcohol, thanks to legislation that overturned the 1927 ban on pubs opening on Good Friday in time for thirsty locals and tourists.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland welcomed the change, saying it would add 40 million euros ($49 million) in sales. Chief executive Padraig Cribben said “the Good Friday ban is from a different era and is rightfully consigned to history.”

Cribben said the change meant pub owners now had a choice whether to open, “like all other businesses who were never subject to a ban.” The closing requirement had often surprised tourists arriving in Ireland for the long Easter weekend.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act of 1927 prohibited the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day, Good Friday and St. Patrick’s Day. The St. Patrick’s Day ban was lifted in 1962. There had been some previous exceptions to the Good Friday ban. Alcohol could be served to hotel residents; those travelling by air, rail or sea; or people attending a theater show or a sporting event.

Good Friday is when Christians remember Jesus’ death on the cross.

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