No lament for Lucinda

Lucinda practicing her fence-sitting, but even here she winds up to the right…

Perhaps the most interesting part of the commentary around the “Protection of Life During Pregnancy” bill is the combined canonisation and castigation of Lucinda Creighton.

All of a sudden, political commentators seem to have anointed her as a “possible future Taoiseach”, if only she’d vote against her principles on the bill.

For a young TD only in her second term in the Dáil and with zero cabinet experience, it amounts to lazy speculation.

Creighton may be deserving of respect simply for voting according to her conscience, informed by her deeply-held beliefs – something sorely lacking in the Labour party, for example – but she’s hardly the future of Irish politics.

Her problem is that many of her deeply-held beliefs also happen to be deeply offensive – to other women and to gay people in particular.

Remarkably, her party was forced to distance itself from her comments on marriage equality (made, ironically, when she was spokesperson for such issues), and that performance, combined with her backing of Richard Bruton in a heave against Enda Kenny, has arguably kept the handbrake on her career to date.

So in terms of the social aspect, Creighton represents the past of Irish politics – her views on gay marriage and abortion are thankfully only held by a fast-shrinking minority of Irish people, and are unlikely to be in vogue again any time soon.

Her understanding of the legislation currently before the house is also questionable.

She framed her opposition to it as being mostly hinged on section 9, which deals with the risk posed by suicide or the threat of suicide. Lucinda, naturally enough, objected to this.

The problem for her is that this was the very point of the bill. 

The Supreme Court demanded legislation based on the X case, a case in which the threat of suicide played an enormous part in the decision.

Not to have included such a clause in that manner would, to all intents and purposes, have been to go against the Supreme Court’s ruling. And this after ignoring it completely for 21 years.

But none of this was ever going to stop her grandstanding when given a chance to speak in the chamber.

Nor did it stop many of her opponents on the left, who displayed a similar lack of understanding, somehow imagining that they could shoehorn in all manner of access to abortion into what was a very limited framework for legislation.

In doing so, they have given a hostage to political fortune, as evidenced by the fact that the two major parties never tire of reminding Sinn Féin that they voted for the bank guarantee, despite their general stance on matters economic.

In short, every time this issue comes back before the house – and it will come back before the house – the deputies will be reminded of it as their contributions are cut to shreds amid the braying laughter of the party sheep – “We gave you an abortion bill, you voted against it. Now bugger off, hippies.”

So what now for Creighton? Is she popular enough to stand alone in Dublin?

Given her recent social stances it is doubtful, but the latest events are beginning to look like a storm in a Tea Party cup.

There is much debate among the chattering classes as to whether the electorate would be supportive of a new party, and though still a political lightweight, the addition of Creighton would add credence to it.

Either way, she has taken a political gamble, but it’s not as big as it might first appear. After all, if we’ve already forgiven Fianna Fáil for destroying the country, what’s a little vote against abortion between friends?

Don’t lament Lucinda yet.

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