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The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) today welcomed the decision by the Irish government to hold a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment. The Union is calling on the Cabinet and both houses of the Oireachtas to make haste with the referendum procedures so holding a referendum in May 2018 can be facilitated.

USI President Michael Kerrigan said, “What we have is effectively a repeal of the Eighth Amendment. Healthcare has no place in the constitution, and we will remain cautious of the wording of the referendum bill to see what the enabling clause will look like. We will be working closely with our allies to ensure we’re not actually taking two steps back while trying to move forward ”

Mr Kerrigan added, “Millions of our young people have not had the opportunity to vote on this issue, and arguably it affects our future generations more than any other. UK Department of Health statistics show that over a quarter of those giving Irish addresses with their services are women between 18-24 years of age.

“We issued letters to all members of the Cabinet asking for a May date for referendum, and no later. We’re glad that this sentiment is shining through discussions on the referendum so far, but we hope this sentiment is upheld.”

The Union issued letters to Taoiseach Varadkar’s Cabinet on Monday the 29th of January ahead of the Cabinet meeting urging the deliberations to take into serious consideration the need to have a referendum on the Eighth Amendment before the end of May 2018.

The Union outlined this as  important for a number of reasons:

  • To ensure that thousands of young people who have and will turn 18 during their last year of secondary school can vote – if a referendum extends any further past May, they will be sitting state examinations;
  • To ensure that the thousands of students who are encouraged to seek J1 visas are in the country to vote;
  • To ensure that the thousands of students who are on work placement as part of their college curriculum away from their family homes are able to vote.
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