Bishop urges next Government to prioritise jobs and housing
The Bishop of Cork and Ross has called on the people of Ireland to “treasure” and use their vote in the upcoming General Election, while the labour Leader has pledged to hold a referendum on repealing the Eight Amendment if the party returns to Government.
Bishop John Buckley described the election as an “important moment in Irish history” and reminded the country of their responsibility in using their vote wisely.
Pointing out the vital service politicians make to the community, the bishop said that they deserve respect but should also be engaged with the public when looking for votes. “Our priorities and views must be reflected by our politicians. That is why we vote for them.”
He called on people to consider key issues society is facing, one of which being the debate on abortion. “The greatest issue for all of us is the dignity of the human person,” he said. “This covers poverty, unemployment, healthcare and it also covers life in the womb.
“It is likely that there will be pressure to repeal the Eight Amendment after the election.”
Bishop Buckley suggested that the term ‘fatal foetal abnormalities’ would be used frequently in debates but said the word ‘fatal’ was “ misleading… there is no medical evidence, none whatsoever, where a doctor can predict, with certainty, the lifespan of babies before they are born.”
He also condemned the term ‘incompatible with life’, saying it implies that a baby’s life is worthless. “It is sad that a child’s life-limiting condition is being used to promote the agenda of those who seek to legalise abortion on much wider grounds.”
He explained the Church teaches that it is wrong to confuse necessary medical treatment to save a mother’s life and not intend to harm a baby, with abortion, which deliberately ends the life of a child.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Joan Burton has promised that a referendum on the topic will take place if her party is successful. “If Labour is in Government we will ensure that there is a referendum on the eighth amendment,” she said.
People Before Profit has also made a commitment to hold a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment within six months of the election if they are elected to Government. They responded to Bishop Buckley’s comments saying that the Church was entitled to its opinion but said modern Ireland was ‘a secular society’.
The bishop also spoke on other issues, such as the refugee crisis, healthcare and the huge increase in homelessness and unemployment.
Bishop Buckley pointed out that the majority of refugees who have experienced hardship, violence and suffering are good, law-abiding people, adding that the current migrant crisis is threatening to destabilise governments across Europe. He stressed that refugees must respect the values, laws and traditions of host countries, however.
Whoever forms the next Government must make, as a priority, a decision to address the problem of homelessness and unemployment. The scandal of homelessness is now at “crisis point”, he said, and highlighted his particular concern over children who find themselves in hostels and hotels while trying to continue their education. “We now have more homeless than at any other time in modern history,” he added.
Speaking on the lack of housing, he said the issue demands investment. He revealed that the Society of St Vincent de Paul is dealing with a cohort of what he dubbed the ‘new poor’, many of whom were contributors to the charity in the past. “The next Government must address this problem with a reduction of taxes for those on lower incomes.”
He also raised concerns over the huge numbers of people leaving Ireland in the hope of looking for work. “As a result of the lack of jobs for people, especially young people, over 200,000 people have left Ireland during the past six years.”
Another issue to consider is the “over crowded, understaffed” healthcare system. The bishop pointed out that the dignity of the human person is denied when the elderly and chronically ill are consigned to endless queues and trollies on corridors.
He also outlined vital issues for the community of Cork, concerning the recent floods, explaining how those who suffered heartbreak and financial ruin are turning to politicians for help.
Bishop Buckley noted that the country has been given an opportunity to “shape the type of society” that they want on 26th February.
“The decision is a significant one which deserves our serious consideration. We should not consider just our own needs but the wider good.”Tags: 2016, Abortion, Bishop Buckley, Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross, General Election, Housing, Ireland, Irish Election, Unemployment