Legal Analysis & Signatories


In Article 40.3.3° of the Constitution of Ireland (“the Eighth Amendment”) the State “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

The Eighth Amendment respects the right to life of mothers. As its wording makes clear, it protects the right to life of the unborn only to the extent that such protection is consistent with the right to life of the mother.

In the recent case of M –v- Minister for Justice and Equality, the Supreme Court has held that the rights of the unborn under the Constitution are limited to those rights which are acknowledged in the Eighth Amendment.

Accordingly, the repeal of the Eighth Amendment would entail the removal from the Constitution of the existing acknowledgment of the right to life of the unborn and the removal of constitutional protection for the unborn boy or girl in the womb.

If the Eighth Amendment is repealed, the Government has signalled its intention to place legislation before the Oireachtas. The proposed legislation would allow the life of the unborn to be ended for any reason up until twelve weeks, and far beyond that on grounds which have led to abortion on demand in other jurisdictions. In addition, such limitations on abortion as may be set in the legislation could be removed at any time without the consent of the People.

It is clear, therefore, that what is being proposed is not simply abortion in exceptional cases but a wide-ranging right to abortion.

Each person was, by definition, once unborn. As we mature, our capacity to assert and enjoy rights may increase over time. Likewise, our capacity may decrease due to serious illness, old age or other reason. At all stages, however, born and unborn, we remain the same human being with the same inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights. These human rights rest on the foundation-stone of the right to life. Life is the constant which makes the exercise of every other human right possible.

As lawyers drawn from every level of the profession, both currently in practice and those now working in other fields, we hope that, having considered what is at stake in the coming referendum and the far-reaching proposals of Government, our society will conclude that it would be profoundly unjust to withdraw the existing constitutional protections from the unborn child or to give Government the power that they seek to legislate in this area.

Signed By:

  • Ailill O’Reilly, Barrister
  • Ann Daly, Solicitor
  • Aoife Rooney, Solicitor
  • Berenice McKeever, Barrister
  • Brian Spieran, Senior Counsel
  • Carole M. Corbett, Barrister
  • Dr. Ciarán Creaven, Senior Counsel
  • Cora Sherlock, Solicitor
  • Darren Lehane, BCL, LLM, MCIArb, Barrister
  • Deirdre Kenny, Solicitor
  • Diarmuid Ó Catháin, Solicitor
  • Eamon Galligan, BA(Mod), M.R.U.P., Senior Counsel
  • Eileen King, Solicitor
  • Councillor Emmett O’Brien, Barrister
  • Evana Boyle, BCL, LLM, Solicitor
  • Fintan Lawlor, Solicitor
  • Geoffrey Sumner, Barrister
  • Professor Gerard F Whyte.
    School of Law, Trinity College Dublin
  • Grace Gallagher, BA, LLB, BL, JD, LLM, Barrister
  • Hugh McGroddy, Solicitor
  • James Burke, Barrister
  • Joan M. Hynes, Barrister
  • John Smith, Barrister
  • Kate Cussen BCL MSc. Solicitor
  • Ken Smyth, Solicitor
  • Killian McMorrow, B.Comm., Dip.Int.Human Rights Law, Dip.Int.Human Rights and Criminal Procedure, Barrister
  • Liz McDermott, LLB Solicitor
    One Day More
  • Máire Cassidy, Barrister
  • Marie Slattery, Barrister
  • Margaret O’Shea-Grewcock, Solicitor
  • Mary Faulkner
    Former Dean of the School of Law, King’s Inns, Dublin
  • Micheál Ó Sé, Barrister
  • Neil Kelly, Barrister
  • Olivia Doyle, Solicitor
  • Patrick Keane, Senior Counsel
  • Paul McGettigan, Barrister
  • Roderick Tyrell, MSc. (Health Care,Ethics & Law) Solicitor
  • Seán Davin, Barrister
  • Siobhán Daly, Solicitor
  • Terry O’Driscoll, Barrister
  • Úna Ní Chatháin, Barrister
  • Virginia Harrington, Solicitor
  • Desmond Stark, Senior Counsel
  • Rachel Macauley, Solicitor
  • Seán Corrigan, Barrister
  • Emmet H. Gallagher BA LLB LLM JD
  • Peter D. Jones, Solicitor
  • Nuala, Baroness O’Loan of Kirkiniola

    Former Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

  • Charlotte Simpson, Barrister
  • Shay Fleming, BSc BL MA MA MinstP CPhys MRSC CChem, Solicitor
  • Aindrias Ó Caoimh, Senior Counsel
    Former Judge of the High Court of Ireland and former Judge of the European Court of Justice
  • Ann Wright, BCL, In-house Legal Counsel
  • Beata Kozłowska BA (Hons) , MSc, DPSI, DLSP
  • Brendan Guildea, Barrister
  • Byron Wade, Barrister
  • Caroline Leonard, Solicitor
  • Ciara C. Davin, Barrister
    Register Nurse
  • Cormac Ó Ceallaigh, Solicitor
  • David Sheehan, Solicitor
  • Denis Linehan, Solicitor
  • Diarmuid Ó Shea, Solicitor
  • Eamon Marray, B.A. LL.B., Barrister
  • Elaine Gallagher, Solicitor
  • Emile Daly, Barrister
  • Feargal P. Kavanagh, Senior Counsel
  • Francis Rowan, Solicitor
  • George A. Brady, Senior Counsel
  • Professor Emeritus Gerard Casey, BA (Cork) MA, PhD (Notre Dame) LLB. LLM.
    Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy at University College Dublin and Former member of the governing body of University College, Dublin.
  • Graham Quinn, LLB, Barrister
  • Iarfhlaith O Neill, Senior Counsel
    Former Judge of the High Court of Ireland and Former Chairman of the Referendum Commission (Lisbon Treaty)
  • James Charity, Barrister
  • Joe Varley, Solicitor
  • John T. Gibbons, BE, C.Eng., FIEI, FCI Arb, Senior Counsel
  • Kate O’Toole, LLB. Barrister
  • Kieran Cummins, Solicitor
  • Laura Collins, Barrister
  • Louise Wright, Solicitor
  • Malachy Steenson, LLB., LLM, Solicitor
  • Marita Dockery, MA LLM Solicitor
  • Maria Pittock, Solicitor
  • Maurice Osbourne, Barrister
  • Michael Ryan, Barrister
  • Niall Doyle, Solicitor
  • Patrick Cunningham, Solicitor
  • Patrick Treacy, Senior Counsel
  • Pól Ó Murchú, Solicitor
  • Senator Ronan Mullen, Barrister
  • Seán D. Rafter, Barrister
  • Suzanne Boylan, Barrister
  • Theresa Lowe, Barrister
    Former Television and Radio Presenter with Radio Teilifís Éireann
  • Una Cassidy, Barrister
  • William Binchy, Barrister
    Former Regius Professor of Laws, Trinity College, Dublin and Member of the Irish Human Rights Commission
  • Paul Hegarty, BCL LLB LLM Barrister
  • Triona Walsh, Solicitor
  • Gerard Hussey, Barrister
  • Paraic Lyons, Barrister
  • Áine Grogan, Barrister
  • Anne Marie Maher, Barrister
  • Benedict Ó Floinn, M.A. (Oxon) Barrister
    Author of Practice and Procedure in the Superior Courts
  • Brian Jennings, Solicitor
  • Caitríona Heffernan, BA (Hons) LLB
  • Caroline Simons, BCL., LLM, MA, Solicitor
  • Clíona Ní Chatháin, Solicitor
  • Cormac O’Neill, Barrister
  • David Burke, BA (Oxon) MA (London) Solicitor
  • Dervla Mulcahy, Solicitor
  • Donal Ryan, BCL, LL.M., Barrister
  • Edward O’Leary, Solicitor
  • Elizabeth Burke, BCL, Solicitor
  • Eoin Murnaghan, Barrister
  • Felix McTiernan, Solicitor
  • Frank Martin, Barrister
  • Gerard N. Murphy, Barrister
  • Gerry Murphy, Senior Counsel
    Former Ombudsman for Credit Institutions
  • Helen Burke, Solicitor
  • Imelda Gallagher, BA. LLB, MA, Barrister
  • James Lawless, Solicitor
  • John I Cannon, Solicitor, Coroner
  • Joseph Cuddigan, Solicitor
  • Kathleen T. O’Mahony, Barrister
  • Kieran Morris, Barrister
  • Leonie Macauley, Barrister
  • Lorcan E. Price, Barrister
  • Maria Boyce, Solicitor
  • Margaret Rowley, Solicitor
  • Maria Steen, Barrister
  • Mel Christle, Senior Counsel
  • Michael Pattwell, Solicitor
    Former Judge of the District Court of Ireland
  • Nicola Daveron, Solicitor
  • Patrick J. Barrett, Barrister
  • Paul Brady, BA, MA, LLM, DPhil, Barrister
  • Rebecca Mac Cana, Barrister
  • Sandra Mahon, Solicitor
  • Shane Murphy, Senior Counsel
  • Sylvia Green, Solicitor
  • Thomas Brabazon, Solicitor
  • Venetia Taylor, LL.B., LL.M., Barrister
  • William McEvoy, Solicitor
  • Eugene P. Manley, Barrister
  • Stephen Richard Donnelly, Barrister
  • Donal Smyth, Solicitor
  • Gabriel Reynolds, Barrister
  • Michelle Hayes, Solicitor
    LL.B B.Sc (Pharm)
    Dip.Commercial Litigation,
    Dip. Employment Law, Dip. Family Law,
    Dip. Public Relations, MIAPR,
    Accredited Mediator (Civil & Commercial)
  • Paul McLoughlin, Barrister
  • Stephen O’Connor, Barrister
  • Councillor John Paul Feeley, Solicitor
  • Miriam Kelly, Solicitor
  • Alan Daveron, Solicitor
  • Anthony Moore, Barrister
  • Dr Bénédicte Sage-Fuller, Maîtrise en Droit, Certificat de Droit Européen, LL.M, Ph.D.
    School of Law, UCC
  • Brian M. McMahon, Solicitor
  • Carmel Gallagher B.A., LL.B., LL.M., Barrister
  • Cathy Maguire, BCL LLM, Barrister
  • Dr. Conor Hanly, B.A., LL.B., LL.M. (N.U.I.), LL.M., J.S.D. (Yale)
    Lecturer at NUI, Galway
  • Daithí Mac Carthaigh, Barrister
  • Declan Lawlor, Solicitor
  • Des Quinn, Barrister
  • Donnacha Hennessy, Solicitor
  • Eilís Mulroy, Solicitor
  • Elizabeth Maguire, MA, LL.B., M.Litt., Barrister
  • Erwan Mill-Arden, Senior Counsel
  • Femi Daniyan, Barrister
  • Gail Walsh, Barrister
  • Gerardine Costello, Solicitor
  • Gordon Duffy, Barrister
  • Hilary O’Doherty, BA (Hons) Solicitor
  • Ita Marnell, Barrister
  • James Mahon, Solicitor
  • John Reid, BCL Dip. Eur. L KCHS, Solicitor
  • Dr. Joseph Richardson, Ph.D., M.B.A (Healthcare), Dip. EmpL., M.I.C.S., Barrister
  • Ken Fogarty, Senior Counsel
  • Kieron Wood, Barrister
  • Liam Dockery, BA., Barrister
  • Louis Dockery, BA DLS RTMA Dip. Ecomm., Solicitor
  • Marian O’Riordan, Solicitor
  • Margaret Cordial, MSc (Int. Human Rights Law NUIG) Barrister, Solicitor
    Formerly with the UN High Commission for Human Rights and Advisory Counsel with the Attorney-General’s Office. Author of Circuit Court Rules : Practice and Procedure
  • Martin Mulroy, Solicitor
  • Micheál Munnelly, Barrister
  • Mortimer Kelleher, Solicitor
  • Oliver Costello, Barrister
  • Patrick J. Feeney, Solicitor
  • Paul Byrne, Solicitor
  • Roderick Maguire, LL.B., LL.M.(Lond), M.A (Lond), Barrister
  • Séamus Ó Tuathail, Abhcoide Sínsear
  • Sheila O’Riordan, Barrister
  • Tabitha Wood, BCL. Barrister
  • Dr. Thomas Finnegan, PhD
  • Vincent Toher, Solicitor
  • William F. O’Brien, Barrister
  • Gabriel A. Toolan, BA LLM Solicitor
  • Stephen Dodd, Barrister
  • Mary J. Lewis, Barrister
  • Paul Sreenan, Senior Counsel