Fianna Fáil leader ‘crossed line’ with Down syndrome comments – parents

Fianna Fáil leader ‘crossed line’ with Down syndrome comments – parents Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin

A pro-life group and parents of children with Down syndrome have expressed their hurt and anger following remarks made by Micheál Martin concerning the presence of disability activists in the Eighth Amendment debate.

Micheal O’Dowd of the group Disability Voices for Life said that the Fianna Fáil leader had “crossed a line” and “was trying to silence families” in relation to the debate taking place around abortion and Down syndrome in Ireland. 
Micheál Martin told the Guardian that concerns regarding babies with Down syndrome being aborted are “a bogus argument” and that pictures of people with Down syndrome should not be part of the referendum debate.

“We will not hide our children away, and we will not be silenced regarding the devastation that abortion is wreaking on their communities,” said Mr O’Dowd.

Mr O’Dowd added that a recent Save the 8th billboard pointing out that 90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in Britain has brought some reality to the debate in Ireland.


“The billboard features Joseph Cronin, a Donegal boy with Down syndrome, and gives a human face to the shocking fact that 90% of babies with the condition have their lives ended before birth in other jurisdictions,” Mr O’Dowd said.

Mr O’Dowd also said that parents had been forced to fight the political establishment tooth and nail for decades to get basic services for people with disabilities, and they would not be silenced on the debate surrounding the removal of the Eighth Amendment.

“It is upsetting and intimidating for families to see politicians come out and tell them that they can’t express the facts, or their concerns, or that they can’t include their families in the discussion.

“The days when people with Down syndrome were locked away and their families silenced are long gone, and we will be heard in this referendum,” he said.