GAA athletes launch 'No' campaign for Eighth Amendment

The group claim Government proposals seek “to exclude one group of people"

GAA athletes launch 'No' campaign for Eighth Amendment

Micky Harte is seen during the Ulster Championship in 2007 | Image: ©INPHO/Andrew Paton

A group of GAA athletes have launched a campaign, calling for a No vote in the upcoming Eighth Amendment referendum.

'GAA Athletes for a No Vote' plan to issue a series of videos from well known GAA players over the coming month, giving their reasons for voting No.

The launch, at the Ballyfermot Sports Centre in Dublin, was attended by: Joe Sheridan, Patrick Gallagher, Aoife Cassidy, Anne Marie McDonagh and Micky Harte.

In a statement, the group says: "The GAA's vision is 'that everyone be welcome to participate fully in our games and culture, that they thrive and develop their potential, and be inspired to keep a lifelong engagement with our association.'

"Many young men and women are wondering how to vote.

"The GAA insists that there is a place for everybody in our association, regardless of ability, or disability, regardless of background, regardless of race.

"We are an inclusive organisation. There is a space for everybody at our table.

"Sport is a place where people come together to test themselves, to strive for greatness, to fulfil their potential, and to express their unique gifts as part of a team.

"Working together, we become one team, one society, one nation, and one human race. Those are our principles - inclusiveness, compassion, respect, dignity, teamwork.

Government proposal "not inclusive"

"In keeping with those principles, we are coming together today to ask the Irish people to vote No on May 25th.

"The proposal the Government has put forward is not inclusive. It specifically seeks to exclude one group of people, the unborn, from our society.

"It strips them of rights, it declares that they are not on our team."

They also claim the proposal is not compassionate as it "would allow abortions up to six months of gestation.

"It would allow healthy babies, of healthy mothers, to be killed for any reason."

"The proposal is not respectful. It would compel hospital porters, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to take part in abortions even if they believe, in the deepest pits of their being, that they were being asked to do something terribly wrong."

This campaign cames on the same day as Fine Gael launched their campaign calling for a Yes vote.

Minister Josepha Madigan says the constitution is not the place to deal with abortion.

"In the time since the Eighth Amendment was introduced, we have seen repeatedly that it is deeply flawed.

"However well intentioned its insertion was, it has proven to be nothing but a constitutional straight-jacket for doctors - and as a consequence of that a straight-jacket for women who face, and continue to face, crises pregnancies".