WHERE was Cardinal Sean Brady’s conscience when he helped hush-up the crimes of a child rapist?

It is a timely question, because he is now lecturing us on what our consciences should lead us to do. 

The statement he issued with the three other Catholic archbishops, in response to government plans to legislate for the X-Case ruling, is big on the concept of conscience — it is a shame the cardinal’s own conscience was lacking when he had abuse victims sign secrecy agreements, instead of speaking out and saving other children from being raped. 

Regarding the X-Case legislation, the archbishops’ statement says: "On a decision of such fundamental moral importance, every public representative is entitled to complete respect for the freedom of conscience. No one has the right to force or coerce someone to act against their conscience. Respect for this right is the very foundation of a free, civilised and democratic society." 

The dictionary definition of the word ‘conscience’ is: "The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one’s conduct, together with the urge to prefer right over wrong." 

In 1975, Cardinal Brady was part of team of clerics that interviewed a 14-year-old boy who had been abused for two years by the paedophile, Fr Brendan Smyth. 

The boy told the panel about other victims of Smyth, yet he was sworn to secrecy. 

One of the other victims was interviewed by Brady. The boy’s parents were never told about the interview, nor about the abuse he suffered. 

Full article by Shaun Connolly here

"International human rights groups" have contacted the husband of the late Savita Halappanavar and have pledged to help him in his European court battle.

Praveen Halappanavar’s solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell, revealed the situation to the Irish Examiner after the deadline the widower gave for an independent State inquiry to be set up passed yesterday without progress. 

Mr O’Donnell said that three days after he wrote to Health Minister James Reilly on the matter, the only response had been a note on Wednesday evening confirming the correspondence had been received. 

Mr O’Donnell said he and his client are now committing to taking a European Court of Human Rights case against the State — with the move receiving "international" support. 

"Given the huge amount of international attention this has received we do have offers of help from people in human rights groups [in relation to the case]. 

"There are a wealth of people, from Britain and elsewhere, who said they want to offer their services to Praveen. Some of these organisations are known internationally, although I don’t wish to name them yet," the solicitor said. 

Full article by Fiachra Ó Cionnaith here

THERE is broad agreement that the Dáil must provide a legislative framework for a woman’s right to an abortion when her life depends on it, yet division persists about the inclusion of suicide as a risk to life.

People on the anti-choice side of thedebate, citing the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act, say that inclusion of suicide in any legislation would open the floodgates to abortion-on-demand in this country. 

This claim is specious. Legislation here would have to comply with the constitutional position that an abortion can only be countenanced when there is "real and substantial risk" to the life of the woman. 

In contrast, the UK’s decades-old liberalisation of its laws provided for an abortion in circumstances where "the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman" or when "there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped". 

You don’t have to be a legal expert to appreciate that the Oireachtas is precluded, by the pre-eminent legal authority in this country — the Constitution — from enacting similar provisions here. 

Full article by Colette Browne here

Miscarrying women who went to Britain for medical terminations as they were refused in Ireland have spoken in heartbreaking detail about what they endured.

On RTÉ Radio’s Liveline, five women who faced similar situations to Savita Halappanavar explained the reality of a grey legal area. All callers were 15-20 weeks’ pregnant when the incidents occurred in hospitals from 1997 to 2004. 

Medical Council guidelines and all sides of the debate accept there is a clear argument to help miscarrying women pass the foetus if their health is at risk in the very early stages of pregnancy. However, the women claimed they were advised to "read between the lines" and travel to clinics in Britain. 

One woman, Jennifer, said that in 2003 when she was 16 weeks’ pregnant, she started bleeding and went to her local hospital. 

"All the nurses inside [the unit] just started crying uncontrollably. They said there was no hope for the baby and they couldn’t understand I hadn’t miscarried. 

"There was no ... fluid [around the foetus], he had one kidney, fluid on his brain. But there was a heartbeat. They kept listening." 

Full article here