Recreate Celebrity Style On A Budget At Penneys

Who says you need a celebrity-sized budget to look celebrity chic? In fact, here at One4All Group we believe that with a creative eye, anybody can have celebrity style on a budget.

So if you’re wondering how best to spend your One4All gift card this coming Spring, check out these Hollywood-inspired outfits that you can recreate from your nearest Penneys store.

Miranda Kerr’s Classic, Chic Style

This Aussie model never seems to leave the house without looking runway-ready. And guess what – with Penneys incoming spring range, you can steal Miranda’s ‘classic, chic’ look at a price most of us girls can actually afford!

Total cost: €67

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Jessica Alba Casual in Double Denim

Jessica is the queen of casual street style. She always knows how to make the most simple outfits look incredible. Sure, she may buy designer but you can recreate this outfit at Penneys at just a fraction of the cost. Here’s Jessica’s celebrity style on a budget.

Total cost: €42

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Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Classic Celebrity Style On A Budget

This British beauty has modeled for everyone from Burberry to Victoria’s Secret. While she wears the most expensive brands, your outfit can look expensive without burning a hole in your wallet.

Total cost: €49

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For more great ideas on how to spend your One4All gift card, visit www.one4all.ie or ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Written by Shauna Mc Bride.

technology-obsessed

How Exactly Can Social Media Affect Your Mental Wellbeing

Mental Health Ireland says that one important way of protecting your mental wellbeing is to “connect” with others. More specifically, face to face interaction with friends and family is a lot more meaningful and beneficial than a virtual chat or ‘Like’ on social media. Study after study shows that people who are happier tend to have stronger social relationships than those who are less happy.

With more than 450,000 people in Ireland (one in ten) experiencing depression at any one time, regardless of age, gender or background, perhaps one area of our lives we can reflect on is our use of smartphones and social media in today’s digital world.

Let’s be honest – social media is great! The benefits are obvious and all around us – fast and efficient communication, free messaging, culture accessibility, information and entertainment. It allows us to stay in touch with that friend who decided to travel abroad for the summer. It widens our social circle and alerts us to upcoming events. Mobile technology means that hundreds of people are instantly available to us, and we to them.

But social media becomes an issue when you begin to choose virtual interactions over real interactions. Let me give you an example. My friends and I hadn’t been able to see each other for a solid month or two in the lead up to our thesis submission deadline during college. After a long stretch of social deprivation, we were all anxious to meet up and celebrate. My friend Peter invited us around to his house to hang out. We did, and it was great. But I did notice something half way through the evening that still seems odd to me. A few times, everyone had their heads buried in their smartphone, not talking to each other. One was messaging a friend who wasn’t there with us, another was swiping through Tinder, and one just seemed to be scrolling through their Facebook news feed.

Digital connection is thought to be a substitute for face-to-face communication when the latter is not available to us. It’s ‘better than nothing’. But in reality, that technology has become ‘better than something’, even ‘better than anything’. It’s a familiar sight to see a table of friends in a bar or café more interested in what’s going on in their virtual life than their real life.

So why is this happening? Here’s one important reason.

Social Media Offers Us Control

One of the most attractive aspects of social media is its offer of control – control over our social interactions and control of our own identity.

Psychoanalyst Sherry Turkle says that people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people – carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough of one another if we can use technology to keep each other at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right. Turkle calls this the ‘Goldilocks Effect’. Social networks allow instant and continuous connection with hundreds of people but keeps them at a comfortable distance. Face-to-face interaction can at times be messy, demanding and revealing. Facebook sanitizes and compartmentalizes our relationships. We would rather text than talk, not only because it is efficient and ‘cuts to the chase’, but because we want to avoid stumbling over our words and revealing vulnerabilities to others. In a 2012 study of over 2000 British Facebook users, one-third of participants revealed they spend more time chatting online with friends than offline. One-fifth said they prefer to engage in online contact rather than chatting over the phone or in person.

Technology is seductive when its affordances meet our human vulnerabilities. We prefer the controlled, editable, deletable world of texting and Facebook to the disorderly and exposing world of actually talking to one another. People want to be with each other but also elsewhere. We can take out our phones and escape from awkward silences or dull conversations. Customize our lives. Go in and out of different spaces.

I remember my friend Patrick describing his experience of moving into an apartment with one of his best friends:

“It was difficult when we lived together. I realized we had different habits. I no longer had control over how much we saw each other. Since we lived in the same place, I saw him all the time. We got sick to death of each other some of the time, whereas, before we moved in, I’d see him when I wanted to. Our relationship was just easier.”

Of course, we don’t all live in the same house as our closest friends, but this example does reveal a truth which many of us fret. We worry that too much talking might spoil the romance. Facebook lets us present our identity as we want to be. Face-to-face interaction exposes flaws and leaves us defenseless.

The thing that matters most to people now is control over where they put their attention, which seems like a nice idea, but we can end up hiding from one another. Instead of dealing with the ups and downs of rooming with his best friend, Patrick would feel more comfortable keeping a level of distance in their relationship. This vulnerability can partly explain our attachment to technology.

This doesn’t mean social networking sites are inherently bad. It simply does what every new technology is meant to do – make things a little easier for us. In this case, it makes our social interactions a little easier. It’s easier because we can reach out to someone instantly, we can also ignore messages we receive for a few hours without it being rude. Communicating through text gives us the opportunity to think of witty things to say, to draft and re-draft messages or posts that reflect a cooler, popular, idealized version of ourselves.

Humans are social creatures. It is a crucial part of what we do and who we are. Social networking-sites are fundamentally changing the way we interact with people. This comfort of distance, control and distraction can lead some of us to prefer our time spent in the virtual realm.

But hypothetically, let’s say that all of your social interactions were through Facebook, and not face to face. What would this mean for your relationships? It would mean you have dozens of weak-tie relationships with people instead of authentic and fulfilling connections with a few. You would lose valuable interpersonal skills and create a more fragile self. You would develop an unauthentic sense of intimacy the more social interaction becomes degraded through constant exposure to illusory meaningful exchanges with computer screens. And since mental health professionals say that connecting with people face to face makes people happier, how we use new technology can affect our mental wellbeing.

How to Reclaim Meaningful Connections…Without Giving up Technology

If there is an addiction here, it is not to social media itself. It is to the habits of mind that social technologies allow us to practice. With greater awareness of the technology that consumes us, we can begin to question what it is that we truly care about and start living more fulfilling, happier lives. Here are two ways to reclaim meaningful connections:

  • Create sacred ‘unplugged’ spaces at home or when surrounded by friends. Reclaim conversation in these spaces and actually listen to one another, even the considerably boring parts. Put the phone away, close your laptop, turn off the TV and have a chat.
  • Don’t use social media to build your relationships. Sites like Facebook are great for small talk and organizing meet-ups, but not creating authentic bonds with others. Use Facebook to arrange a time and place to meet in person and build your relationships that way.

To conclude, when we start choosing our virtual interactions over our real interactions, the results can be harmful. Excessive social media use can affect the quality of our connections with others, and consequently, our mental health. We must look ahead with caution because the technology in our pockets has an unmatched power to intrude on almost every important and precious thing around – starting, with the friends around us.

 

Life inside Syria

Much of the debate about Syrian refugees have concentrated on their journey to Europe, but these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. They make up only 6% of Syrians effected by the civil war. Another 4 million have fled to neighboring countries like Turkey, Jordon and Lebanon. But there’s also a third figure, which overshadows even that – 7.6 million citizens are displaced within Syria itself, and their suffering remains very much overlooked.

The threat of starvation is growing across the country as pro-government forces besiege an opposition-held town in Syria. In Madaya, a city that has been surrounded by President Bashar Al Assad’s forces since July 2015, people are desperate to find food and avoid starving to death. One activist whose family is inside Madaya also told the BBC: ‘Citizens are dying. They’re eating stuff off the ground. They’re eating cats and dogs.’ Another opposition activist said “We were living on tree leaves, on plants, but now we are struggling in a snow storm and there are no more plants or leaves. With half a metre of snowfall this week, furniture, doors and wooden fixtures and fittings are being burnt to heat homes”. For those who want rice or powdered milk, it can cost up to $300 a kilo.

According to the Britain-based Observatory, fifteen people including young children were shot dead while attempting to flee the city. Others were blown up by hidden landmines planted to enforce the blockade imposed by government forces and Hezbollah fighters. One witness recounted at least 25 checkpoints prevent innocent Syrian citizens from fleeing.

The once busy streets and market squares in many Syrian cities have now become battlefields. Bombs are familiar sounds to the people who live there and evidence of death and destruction everywhere. One resident of Damascus (Syria’s capital) commented on how desensitized she has become to seeing death – “I was walking down the street when a shell landed nearby and a man fell down. I didn’t know whether he was wounded or dead… so I just stepped over him and carried on. The violence has just become ordinary”.

For those living or squatting in worst hit areas by the war, residing in crowded rooms without water and electricity has become the norm. Virtually everyone has lost their job so they try to make money any way they can.

Michael Gerson, a columnist for the Washington Post, believes that the Syrian government are using starvation and bombings as a tool of war. It isn’t a case where thousands of innocent people are being killed simply as a by-product of war between government, ISIS militants and rebel fighters, instead, the government is deliberately targeting civilians as a strategy of deterring those fighting against the autocratic regime. A campaign to re-establish President Bashar Al Assad’s control over areas at the Syrian-Lebanese border. This siege warfare has been used in a ruthlessly coordinated and planned manner, with the aim of forcing a population, collectively, to surrender or suffer starvation and death.

Living in appalling conditions can leave many with no other option than to flee to the city of Raqqa – the self-declared capital of ISIS. Here, the terrorist organization has working electricity, painted road signs, food, water, and even implemented an education system. But resettling here comes at an extremely high price. Living under ISIS rule means adhering to an extremely strict form of sharia law, where even the length of men’s beards and women’s strict dress code are policed. Those who break the law face brutal punishments. Drinking alcohol will get you 80 lashes in a public square. Unmarried men caught talking to an unmarried woman will result in three days inside a cage out in public. If anyone suspects you of working for foreign intelligence. Those even suspected of working for foreign intelligence agencies face the most brutal punishment – beheading.

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Basically, the Syrian nation is in complete shambles and in desperate need of help, both in terms of immediate humanitarian aid and a long term solution to the civil conflict.

Short Term Solution – Humanitarian Aid

What Syria desperately needs right now is humanitarian aid. Over 12 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. And while countries donated record amounts of aid to Syrians at a special conference in London in February 2016, barrel bombs rained down on northern Syria, making it much more difficult for aid organizations to reach those trapped in their own cities by the war.

GOAL, for example, has been one of the leading humanitarian actors in Syria since 2012, and its current work is helping over two million people. Their team faces dangerous challenges and risks in providing aid in Syria, regularly confronting bombings, shelling, and clashes between parties to the conflict. Nonetheless, they are focused on delivering food and non-food items such as blankets, as well as rebuilding houses that were blown up, rehabilitating water networks to provide safe water, and generally supporting livelihoods. Local community bakeries had been destroyed, all but halting the production of bread – a staple of the local diet. GOAL supported existing bakeries to increase the availability of affordable bread by delivering large quantities of wheat flour.

But while the rest of the world is generously donating in record amounts for Syrian aid, increases in funding are no good to them if there are no guaranteed channels through which to distribute resources.

The U.N. has been criticized for its failure to properly confront Bashar Assad’s regime over the lack of humanitarian access, even though a U.N. Security Council resolution passed, ordering unrestricted aid access. The U.N. faces a predicament in negotiating with a regime at war to safely bring aid as many Syrian civilians as possible. Only 10% of U.N. requests to deliver aid to the besieged or difficult-to-reach areas were approved by the Syrian regime in 2015. “Some simply say to me: ‘The U.N. should break the sieges,’” U.N. aid chief Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council. “But that would be reckless. It would entail sending convoy drivers and humanitarian workers into the line of fire.”

“More needs to be done to end the sieges and ensure humanitarian access to all areas,” Salma Kahale, executive director of Syrian democracy and human rights group Dawlaty.

U.N. Secretary-General stressed at the London conference that “What will most help the people of Syria is not just food for today, but hope for tomorrow.”

Difficulty Over A Long Term Solution

It is extremely difficult to determine a long term solution to Syria’s suffering citizens since there seems no end in sight to the civil conflict. In fact, it is steadily getting worse. Humanitarian and protection needs, as well as displacement are continuing to grow, with over 540,000 people displaced in just the first few months of 2015. But most of the world leaders believe that the solution to the Syria crisis needs to be a political one. Ask them how and they seem baffled or splurt out some half-baked solution.

But while world leaders try to figure out how to solve the complex issue of war and turmoil inside Syria, what is more tangible is effectively dealing with the Syrians who have been able to flee their country. In the summer of 2015, Europe saw the highest influx of refugees since World War II. At that moment the world needed to come together and act as a united front. But instead, it has become more divided. Many states refused to take in any refugees.

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German chancellor Angela Merkel believes that a European-wide solution is most realistic. Germany accepted 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015 but faces growing domestic pressure to do something – anything – to stop another million entering this year. Any Syrian refugee arriving in Germany is to be accepted without question. But Merkel’s nightmare scenario is that other Western countries turn their heads, leaving all asylum roads leading to Germany. Sure, many Western nations have taken in thousands of refugees, but they are unfairly distributed throughout these more prosperous countries. The United States, Australia and Britain are among those who can afford to take in a lot more refugees than they have agreed to help. While Greece has opened its borders to far more than its economy can handle. It’s hardly possible to put together a pan-European solution when almost all partners are not fully committed to it.

Although EU citizens have been incredibly generous in donating in large amounts to aid the Syrian refugees, there are fears about what could happen to Europe if it agrees to accept all refugees – such as the growth of Islam, higher birth rates, crime, and the collapse of the social systems. But are these fears rational? Let’s look at the facts. Even if the EU alone were to accept all 4 million refugees, and 100% of them were Muslims, the percentage of Muslims in the European Union would only rise from about 4% to about 5%. This is not a drastic change and will certainly not make it a Muslim continent. A Muslim minority is neither new, nor reason to be afraid.

The worry that refugees create more crime also turns out to be false. Refugees who become immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native population. When aloud to work, they tend to start businesses and integrate themselves into the work force as fast as possible, paying more into the social systems than they extract. Syrians coming to the West are potential professional workers desperately needed to sustain Europe’s aging population.

The European Union is the wealthiest bunch of economies on earth. Well organized states with functioning social systems, infrastructure and democracy and huge industries. It can handle the challenges of the refugee crisis if it wants to. The same can be said for the whole Western world.

Many believe that the migration crisis will define this decade. When millions are forced to travel across the world in search of help, the Syrian crisis becomes a collective problem for the world. Those still residing in the war torn country need emergency aid to stay alive and help make their livelihood a little more tolerable. At the same time, world leaders need to come together and think of a realistic and, hopefully, peaceful solution to this civil conflict. Because collective problems need collective solutions.

Why the Irish Government Continues to Ignore the UNs Criticism of Irish Abortion Laws

Ireland today is considered to have one of the most discriminatory and punitive abortion laws in the world. One recent article I spotted by HeadStuff.org even claimed that Irish political parties pay less respect to women’s autonomy than US republican candidate Donald Trump, a man notorious for making crude sexist comments and is commonly said to be part of the ‘war on women’.

Abortion is against the law in Ireland unless the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. Abortion is not legal in Ireland in cases of rape, incest or foetal anomalies. If a woman or girl decides to terminate her pregnancy, she will have to travel to another country to access safe and legal abortion services. The penalty for an unlawful abortion is up to 14 years imprisonment. There is also a serious lack of access to sexual and reproductive health education and emergency contraception.

Ireland has continuously been shamed by the United Nations on its violations of reproductive rights. In June 2015, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called on the Irish government once again to act immediately to do justice to the rights of women living in Ireland. In a previous international meeting in July 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee criticised the Irish state’s restrictive abortion regime, with Committee Chairman Sir Nigel Rodley saying that Ireland’s laws treats women as “a vessel for incubating a pregnancy and nothing more”. Committee member Ms Heisoo Shin noted that the Irish Government essentially endows the foetus with citizenship, observing that “it seems that the foetus is given precedence when the woman’s right to health is under threat.”

This is a gross belittlement of the rights of women and girls, and in direct conflict with the human rights to health. By restricting abortion, the State disproportionately interferes with women’s rights to health, privacy, life, freedom for inhuman or degrading treatment and non-discrimination. The Committee issued the following recommendations to the Government:

“The Committee recommends that the State party take all the steps necessary, including a referendum on abortion, to revise its legislation on abortion, including the Constitution and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, in line with international human rights standards; adopt guidelines to clarify what constitutes a real substantive risk to the life of a pregnant woman; publicize information on crisis pregnancy options through effective channels of communication; and ensure the accessibility and availability of information on sexual and reproductive health.” (Source: IFPA)

Despite continuous international concern and criticism of Ireland’s abortion laws and legislations, the Irish government refuses to hold a referendum and remains unwilling to catalyse any change. This is puzzling to most people. It is most puzzling because the government’s stance on this issue does not reflect the majority opinion of Irish citizens. A 2016 poll by Newstalk/Red C revealed that 78% of Irish people believe that abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest and 76% in cases of fatal foetal anomaly. And while only 41% believe that abortion should be an option in all circumstances, this poll is still proof that the people of Ireland want their government to address this issue and make some level of change.

So why is it that the Irish government continues to violate women’s autonomy after continuous shaming by the UN? What makes them so reluctant to make changes? Here are three sociological factors that have contributed to this current situation:

  • Nationalist identity politics
  • A politicised attack on sex
  • Fear of the unknown

Nationalist Identity Politics

Abortion has been and continues to be used as a national boundary issue in contemporary Ireland. The debate over access to abortion has been undeniably linked to attempts to define the moral, political and economic boundaries of the Irish nation within the wider context of the transnationalist European Union. Conservative discourses used around the abortion controversies in Ireland symbolically equate Irish women with the Irish nation, and construct their bodies as an ‘other’ with regard to the EU.

Historically, Irish national identity has strongly been linked to Irish Catholicism. This identity developed during the Devotional Revolution which took place in the mid-nineteenth century. During this time the clergy took direct control over the national school curriculum and teachers which significantly increased the Catholic Church’s ability to regulate marriage, sexual practices, and the construction of gender identity in local communities. The Republic’s first constitution in 1937 thus “enshrined the patriarchal nuclear family as the cornerstone of the new state”(Source: Mayer, Gender Ironies: Sexing the Nation, 2000). The text of the constitution deemed a link between ‘woman’, ‘the home’, and motherhood, and legally restricted married women to the domestic sphere by limiting the access of married women to work outside the home. It is also important to note that this Irish identity was formed in a time when Irish men were seeking to establish a nationalist masculine identity to counter Irish colonial feminization under British rule.

It is clear that historically in nationalist Ireland, women have almost exclusively been burdened with the labour of representing the nation. They have symbolically represented the moral purity and tradition of the country. The Virgin Mary was the ideal image of femininity.

Many Irish visionaries claimed that The Virgin Mary appeared to them to deliver messages about preserving Irish cultural and moral heritage and, by extension, national boundaries. In an article about Mary’s appearance at Milleray Grotto in Ireland 1985, for example, part of Mary’s message was “I love the Irish people… I am praying for the people of Ireland… Ireland will be saved… I want the Irish people to convey my message to the world” (source: Mayer, 2000). These words highlight the special relationship between Mary and the Irish moral tradition. They also suggest that the Irish nation can be saved from the evils threatening other European countries and that Ireland, because of its unique moral tradition, should serve as a moral European leader – a place committed to representing certain values and to carrying those values to the rest of the world.

But this idea of preserving Catholic morality and Ireland’s unique heritage has material consequences for the women of Ireland. Historically, such material consequences have meant the restriction of married women from work outside the home, and from legal access to contraception, divorce and, still, abortion. Illegal abortions have resulted in many unnecessary and, frankly, inhuman situations for women. One famous example being the 1992 ‘X Case’ where a 14 year old girl pregnant as a result of rape was not allowed travel to England for an abortion. Or the death of Savita Halappanavar which caused outrage amongst the Irish public in 2012.

Ireland’s entry into the European Union has meant that the nation’s internal social policies have been challenged and the national economy has been increasingly regulated by E.U. policy decisions. The Ireland has experienced rapid change since the latter half of the 20th century. It is clear that the reluctance of today’s government to make changes to abortion laws lies largely in the desire to hold on the Ireland’s sense of Identity. A desire to maintain a distinct culture and avoid being swallowed up by European transnationalism. But while having a unique national identity is not a bad thing, it should not be at the expense of equal rights for all groups in society.

A Politicised Attack on Sex

Or more specifically, an attack on female sexuality. This is part of a wider, historical issue around the world of the control over women, their bodies and their role in society. The underlying conservative belief is that sex is only for procreation, that it is a women’s duty to have babies. A woman who has sex for pleasure and not for babies has broken the rules, she has sinned, and now she must face the consequences of her actions. Those consequences being pregnancy and childbirth.

In December 2015, a man who described himself as a ‘warrior for babies’ open-fired in a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, U.S.A. killing three people and injuring nine. Extremist conservatives took to social media to express their support for his actions, one Tweet saying “No sympathy for any pregnant female who was injured in the Planned Parenthood shooting that was there to get an abortion. She deserved it”. What makes this extreme mentality terrifying is that if a person is ignorant enough to believe that a fully grown human being and a blastocyst have the same sentience, and therefore, the same rights, that person just might not see a problem with killing the grown human being.

They may call themselves Pro-Life, however, they are anything but that. If they cared about life then certainly they would care about female death? Certainly they would not use violence? And yet, since 1997 Christian extremists have attached abortion providers nearly 7,000 times in the United States. There has been 182 arson attacks, 42 bombings, 17 attempted murders, and 8 official murders.

Those in the United States who are against Pro-Choice also do not appear to be trying to reduce abortion rates. Policies that have been proven to reduce abortion rates are implementing sex education, access to condoms, access to birth control and access to emergency contraception. And yet conservative politicians have been fighting to block all of these policies, and instead offer the public ‘abstinence only’ education – which is known to, in fact, increase the number of unintended pregnancies. A study by the University of Washington revealed that teenagers who received comprehensive sex education were 60% less likely to get pregnant than someone who received abstinence-only education.

Ireland faces similar problems. Ireland’s ‘hit and miss’ approach to sex education has failed, with the result that many young people reach adulthood without a proper understanding of how their body works. “Recent surveys from three health board areas show that 25% of Irish teenagers are sexually active by the age of 16. However many are unaware of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and some do not link sex to having a child”, said Catherine Heaney, chief executive of the IFPA. To add to that, the number of Irish teenagers travelling to Britain for an abortion has increased.

So things do not add up here. The intentions of Pro-Life policies seems far from what their name suggests. This movement in fact seems not so much about caring for life, babies, and certainly not about women.

The only conclusion that can be drawn about the Irish government’s Pro-Life stance is that they are seeking state control over women’s bodies and lives in ways which are medically unnecessary, patronizing and invasive. A deliberate attack on women. Without reproductive choice, gender equality cannot and will not be achieved. And that is exactly their point.

Fear of the Unknown

Though the topic of abortion is not the most welcomed in Irish discourse, I have still asked my fair share of fellow Irish people where they stand on this issue. There is a noticeable pattern within many of their answers which go something like – “well, I do want women to have control over their own bodies, but I’d be afraid that a culture would develop where young Irish people would go around carelessly having sex without worrying about contraception, because they know that they can just get a quickie abortion if they need to”. Personally, this is the most common answer I have heard. And not just from men. Plenty of Irish women fear this too.

However, studies have shown that making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions; it simply reduces the safety of abortion. Access to safe abortion and legalization of abortion can prevent unnecessary suffering and death of women.

It is within human nature to fear the unknown. Every equality or human rights movement throughout history has had its share of fearful hysteria surrounding it.

The same fear that many Irish people feel towards legalizing abortion was felt in the 1990s about legalizing divorce. One Donegal pro-life pamphlet written by Fr. Denis Faul in the run-up to the 1995 divorce referendum was titled The Death of a Nation (Source: Mayer, 2000). In it, Dr Faul discussed the dangers of both abortion and divorce, fusing the two in terms of their impact on Ireland and its unique heritage and way of life. Both divorce and abortion he believed would threaten to severe what he and many others saw as necessary links between love, sex and reproduction of children. Fr. Faul’s overall statement was that the separation of sexual intercourse from reproduction in Ireland represented ‘the death of the nation’. His stance was a direct extension of Irish Catholic morality.

Divorce became legal in 1997. And almost two decades after that referendum, Ireland still has the lowest divorce rate in the EU. This fact alone completely debunks the Church’s theory. Legalizing divorce did not destroy Irish families. It did not consequently kill relationships between husbands and wives. It simply made the option available for those who truly want or need it. And according to the Central Statistics Office, that is 0.6 out of 1,000 Irish people. Marriage is still seen as a serious commitment between two people who plan on spending the rest of their lives together. Legalizing divorce did not change that standard. But the Irish people wanted the right to choose for themselves, and do so without stigmatization or discrimination. The Church’s propaganda aimed to instil fear in the public, convince them that it would destroy families, and to promote their idealized image of Ireland’s unique culture.

Like divorce in Ireland, legalizing abortion will not mean that sexual carelessness will run rampant. What it will do is give women their human right to health and to their own bodies. As we liberate ourselves from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

The reality is, Irish politicians who are in favour of women’s reproductive rights may be reluctant to loudly start lobbying for these changes out of fear of isolating many of their voters. The Catholic rhetoric mixed with the United Nation’s human rights standard has created quite a turbulent divide among Irish opinions. Although many believe in legalizing abortion, the Church was done a good job creating fear around what could happen to the ‘Irish family’ and the nation’s identity. As more and more Irish citizens become informed on this topic and liberate themselves from this fear, more and more Pro-Choice politicians will be more willing to stand up for change.

Overview

Ireland continues to ignore the UN’s criticism of its abortion laws and request to make changes to meet the International human rights standard. Maintaining Ireland’s national identity that was created during the Devotional Revolution is one reason for the government’s reluctance, however, this identity maintenance relies heavily on women and controlling their sexual freedom. Keeping a tight grasp on this patriarchal identity is not worth the material repercussions that Irish women have faced throughout the years including, fear, repression, discrimination, stigmatization and even death.

Another reason for keeping abortion illegal in Ireland is the relentless politicised attack on sex, which is experienced particularly by women all around the world. There have been numerous violent attacks on abortion clinics in the U.S. by Christian extremists who claim to be ‘Pro-Life’, yet their actions discredit their ‘Pro-Life’ stance and instead reveal a wider issue of hatred over women’s autonomy. This is also proven by the government’s (both American and Irish) reluctance to implement effective and comprehensive sex education, and better access to emergency contraception, despite ample evidence that links these with lower unplanned pregnancy rates.

There is a fear among the Irish people that legalized abortion could mean more careless sexual activity and the damaging of Irish families – reflections of Irish morality. And while both are genuine concerns, studies have shown that making abortion illegal does not reduce the number of abortions. It only increases the chance of suffering and even death. If more Irish citizens realize these facts and show greater support for women’s reproductive rights in Ireland, Pro-Choice politicians will be more likely to stand up for this view without fear of isolating a significant chunk of their voters.

The first place to make change is by holding a referendum on repealing the 8th amendment of the Irish constitution on abortion. But meeting the standards of the UN requires a lot more significant change than that. Abortion rights requires more support from the Irish people, and eliminate the stigma and discrimination that is currently attached to it. Comprehensive and effective sex education needs to be implemented in schools. Contraception needs to be easily accessible and affordable for everyone. Illegal abortions in Ireland is more about the relentless control over sex and women’s sexuality than anything else. To legalize abortion would mean taking another great stride towards a more equal Ireland.