A General Election is a unique event in the life of any country. The excitement and the hustle and bustle will be with us over the next few weeks until Election Day. It is good for our democracy that so many people participate in the campaign. Each makes a contribution to the strength of our democracy. Best wishes to every election candidate. I urge everyone to cast their vote.
I express my appreciation and gratitude to all T.D.s and Senators for their service over the past five years. When they were elected the country was in great difficulty. All the elected representatives in the 31st Dáil and Seanad have played their part in bringing about the welcome recovery. Thankfully a measure of hope and confidence has returned and the country is in a better place today. It is not easy for our representatives having to constantly commute to Dublin. We appreciate their service.
Nationwide there is a realisation that there is no room for complacency. There are many great needs and challenges still to be faced: the inadequacy of some services in our hospitals and disability facilities; significantly reduced pay levels being offered to many; young couples about to marry and young couples with children unable to finance the renting or purchase of a home; child poverty, homelessness, unemployment and high crime levels. Each day we hear people describe so vividly other urgent needs.
Abortion is an issue that is highly sensitive for many, many people. It is not just an issue in Ireland. There are and will always be, in every country in the world, people of all faiths and none who will campaign against it. Christian people will always say ‘no’ to abortion. To repeal the 8th Amendment of Bunreacht na hÉireann is to say that difficulties with acknowledging “the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother” can be resolved by reducing to nought, the right to life of the unborn.
Election-time is a good time for all, politicians and voters, to recommit themselves to working together for the good of all citizens. The election can be conducted in a good spirit that lifts the morale of the whole nation. We can be united, ‘one for all and all for one’. Is it happening among us that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”? Every citizen ought to have the opportunity to live a fulfilling life, pursuing their God-given calling.
A key Gospel phrase comes to mind – “love one another, as I have loved you”. How often in the Gospel Jesus looked after the poor and the needy and urged his followers to do the same. A healthy wholesome country is one in which there is a basic civic spirit of care for all fellow citizens, especially the sick, the poor and the vulnerable. This is our Christian desire for Ireland. Draw strength from the example of all those who have served our country so well in the hundred years since the 1916 Easter Rising which we commemorate this year. May election 2016 renew the spirit of our country.
Bishop Ray Browne on the upcoming General Election 26th Feb 2016