In Passing: A war for the heart and soul of Ireland

A war for the heart and soul of Ireland is currently waging and the battle for the right to life of the unborn is revealing a divide in its people of the most fundamental kind. The very nature of humanity is at issue.

It is amazing that what Maria Steen pointed out recently in a TV encounter needed to be said in a public debate. The old “wrong side of History” was thrown at her as a argument against the right to life of the unborn. She pointed out that history did not have the cleanest record when it comes to human rights – given that slave-traders, to name but one atrocious blot on civilization, once thought they were on the right side of History.

The Marxism implicit in the determinism of those who tell us we are on “the wrong side of history” is frightening.

We are a free people and we make history, history does not make us. History is the record of our greatness and our folly, of our capacity for good and our dreadful capacity for evil. To surrender ourselves and our freedom to “History” as some blind force is to abandon our humanity. To surrender ourselves and our freedom to “History” without questioning the human choices which made it what it is, is to abdicate moral responsibility. To define our freedom as simply a matter of making choices without asking ourselves about the good or evil character of what we choose is the way to a hell on earth.

This is the battle now being engaged on the island of Ireland. In the North of Ireland, within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, the outcome will be determined by Parliament. In the Republic it goes before the people in a referendum and in a matter of months the issue will be decided. The right to life of babies over the first nine months of their existence will be taken away or vindicated.

The forces of so-called progress, namely “progressivism”, and the forces of reason are mustering for the battle. Divisive it will be. Divisive it must be – for this, like no other issue is an issue of life and death.

Ireland’s progressivist elitists are an embarrassed lot – feeling out of step with their compatriots in the United States, the island of Britain and the continent of Europe. Among this enlightened elite, poor backward Ireland is still living in the Dark Ages, continuing “against the tide of History” to regard the child in its mother’s womb as a human being. The international media is keeping up the pressure – hoping that they will see Ireland go from the back of the class right up to the front again, as it did nearly three years ago when it became the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage by a popular vote.

In terms of financial resources and elite consensus, it is all shaping up to be the greatest and most unequal contest since David faced Goliath. On one side you have the international forces of the United Nations, the European Union Commissars, assorted NGOs led by a shadowy manipulator masquerading as a philanthropist, George Sorros, by that betrayed organisation, Amnesty International, whose Irish branch is now totally dedicated to the cause of abortion – and about ninety percent of the national media. On the other side you have a very committed but numerically limited and terribly underfunded platoon of pro-life action groups defending the unborn.

Pope Francis is expected to visit Ireland in August. The clever progressives in the Irish Government have been very careful to ensure that he was not going to get a platform to speak his mind on the issue in any way that would have a serious impact on the result. For that reason the referendum will take place in May or June – at the time of writing the date had not yet been set. They have no such reservations about letting the un-elected quangos of the United Nations and the European Union have their say on the matter.

But the defenders of unborn children know the story of David and Goliath. They also know that in their sling they have a small still voice more powerful than anything this Goliath can throw at them and the babies they are fighting for. They have the truth, the truth about our nature and about our humanity. They feel that if they can tell the story of life then the deception of abortion will be exposed – along with the untruth that choice and freedom are synonymous. All this, they hope, will be seen by the people of Ireland to be the lie that it is.

“Only the freedom which submits to the Truth leads the human person to his true good. The good of the person is to be in the Truth and to do the Truth.” (Veritatis Splendor, Saint John Paul II). This speaks not just to the Christian but to all mankind. The denial of the truth inherent in the pro-choice ideology, a denial made in the face of human nature and science, enslaves its adherents – even as they demand their false autonomy.

In the same Magna Carta on behalf of Truth, he also spells out the reasons for the cul-de-sac into which progressivism has led us, and its dire consequences.

This essential bond between Truth, the Good and Freedom has been largely lost sight of by present-day culture… Pilate’s question: “What is truth” reflects the distressing perplexity of a man who often no longer knows who he is, whence he comes and where he is going. Hence we not infrequently witness the fearful plunging of the human person into situations of gradual self-destruction. According to some, it appears that one no longer need acknowledge the enduring absoluteness of any moral value. All around us we encounter contempt for human life after conception and before birth; the ongoing violation of basic rights of the person; the unjust destruction of goods minimally necessary for a human life. Indeed, something more serious has happened: man is no longer convinced that only in the truth can he find salvation. The saving power of the truth is contested, and freedom alone, uprooted from any objectivity, is left to decide by itself what is good and what is evil.

The chilling implications of the underlying and erroneous philosophy of those advocating the repeal of Ireland’s constitutional protection of the right to life of all human beings were laid bare by Professor William Binchy, an expert in constitutional law, when he addressed politicians deliberating on the legislation which set up this referendum. He challenged both those advocating repeal and the legitimacy of international pressure being put on Ireland to make this change. Clearly, he said, the implications for civilisation of an argument which gives one human being the right to choose to end the life of another innocent and defenceless human being brings us back to not just the Dark Ages but to one of barbarism where right and wrong are no longer rooted in reason but on the whims of individuals.

Human rights, Binchy explained to the members of the parliamentary committee – some of whom seemed incapable of comprehending the truth of what he was saying – are based on the inherent and equal worth of every human being. “Human beings have human rights, not because they are given by legislators or courts, but by reason of their humanity.” Commenting on what advocates for change are saying, he claimed that, if accepted, they would make it lawful to take the life of a child on request, with no restriction as to reasons, and also where the child has a significant foetal anomaly. “If human rights are to have any meaning, one human being should not be entitled to choose to end the life of another, innocent and defenceless, human being. The idea that our law should authorise the taking of a child’s life with “no restriction as to reasons” is, frankly, abhorrent to any civilised society.”

To get a sense of the poverty of the thinking behind the pro-choice case one has to look no further than the slogans with which they proclaim it. “Abortion is not a Crime. It is a choice”, they shout, without looking at the implications of those words . Choices and crimes are not mutually exclusive. Some choices are wrong and will always be wrong, whether the law says so or not. Good laws say they are. Bad laws say they are not – in this case a bad law is being proposed on the basis that choice is the greatest of all goods – which brings us back once again to the spectre of a hell on earth.

So let the battle be engaged. This is a crucial moment of truth for the Irish people, and indeed the watching world. The great art historian, Kenneth Clark, from the precipice of Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry, long before Star Wars arrived there, once spoke of Western civilization hanging by its fingernails from those rocks. Perhaps history will repeat itself and the world will begin its liberation from the blind force of History to which “progressivism” has surrendered our freedom.

Michael Kirke is a freelance writer, a regular contributor to Position Papers, and a widely read blogger at Garvan Hill ( His views can be responded to at