Fool me once with Aodhan O’Riordain

When I read Aodhan O’Riordain’s comments on abortion in this month’s Hot Press, I was reminded of that scene in The Wizard Of Oz where Toto the dog pulls the curtain away, revealing the “Wizard” working away with his levers and pulleys.

“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” we’re told, but it’s too late.  The illusion is broken, and it ain’t coming back.

It’s kinda the same with Aodhan, but it’s getting a leeeetle bit awkward now because no-one seems to have told him.

Here’s just a few of the things Aodhan had to tell Hot Press about abortion:-

“…when I ran for election first, it was one of those questions you just didn’t want to be asked.  Abortion is the question in Ireland which shows up politicians in an incredibly negative light because there’s a massive amount of cowardice that surrounds this issue…I used to have a very pro-life view of this issue.  That’s changed.”

When asked what changed his view, he says: “Once you meet somebody who has been to England and had an abortion, you find yourself not in any way able to judge them.  I think the 8th Amendment has to go.  What model would I go for?  I don’t know.  I think a lot of  people here are comfortable with the idea of a woman making up her own mind over her own body and over her own future and I am very comfortable that that needs to happen, but there are always going to be questions about until what time, and I can’t say that I know when that is.  Is it 24 weeks?  Is it slightly earlier?  I don’t know the minutiae of that, but I do know that I can’t stand over a situation where women are forced to do something that they just don’t want to do.”

I won’t spend too long on these comments, apart from saying that no-one who considers themselves “pro-life” is too interested in judging women who’ve had abortions.  But that kind of accusation suits people like Aodhan, who want to paint all pro-lifers as extremists.

The main issue with this piece of Aodhan propaganda is that we already know how he feels about abortion.  It’s not a matter of him worrying about “the minutiae” of whether an unborn life should be ended at 24 weeks (a stage when many premature babies survive), or earlier. We know that Aodhan favours a liberal abortion regime.  But we don’t know that because Aodhan decided that he didn’t want to be one of those nasty, cowardly politicians who don’t deal with the issue.  We only know by chance – thanks to an undercover investigation reported in the Sunday Independent back in April 2013.

It turns out that when it came to abortion,  there was a big difference between what Aodhan was prepared to say in public and behind closed doors.  Here’s what he had to say:

In relation to the X Case legislation, Mr O Riordain said: “It is a starting point. Once you get that . . . then you can move . . . and of course if I’m on the radio and somebody says to me, ‘It’s a starting point for abortion on demand’, I’m gonna say, ‘No, of course it isn’t – it is what it is.'”

Needless to say, Aodhan wasn’t too happy about his real views coming out into the public domain:

He said: “This was a taped conversation and I wasn’t willing to be taped and I am pretty disappointed that you are touching it – and that is pretty much all I have to say.”

The problem is, Aodhan’s disappointment does nothing to remove the fact that he’s on record as saying one thing in public and another behind closed doors.  He can wax lyrical about concern for women and their babies.  He can wonder about “the minutiae”and ignore the fact that what he’s really talking about is an issue of life and death for unborn babies, not to mention the physical and emotional wellbeing of women in Ireland.  Despite his carefully crafted interviews, any amount of waffling won’t hide the fact that we expect our Government Ministers to be upfront about every issue, especially the most sensitive ones.  From his non-response at the time, to the vagueness of these recent comments, it’s clear that Aodhan O’Riordain still doesn’t get it.

Much like the rest of his colleagues in Government, Minister O’Riordain must be hoping that the electorate have a very short memory. But the simple fact is, we’ve all been fooled once by Labour.  It won’t happen again.