The Snakes Are Back In Ireland

They're hungry for her unborn children.

By Thomas McArdle Published on March 17, 2018

The band Horslips were Ireland’s high kings of ‘70s Celtic rock. There’s a spooky instrumental on side two of their underrated fourth album, The Unfortunate Cup of Tea. It’s “The Snakes’ Farewell to the Emerald Isle.” Listen and you can hear amidst the melancholy strains a defiant undertone suggesting “We Shall Return!”

I bought all 12 of this little-known-in-America group’s albums. Strangely enough, years later I found my newlywed self living directly across the road from, and making friends with, the producer of Horslips’ last several discs and his wife in Upstate New York. Steve Katz is the pioneering blues-rock guitarist who co-founded Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Horslips is short for “The Five Poxmen of the Horslypse.” That was one of the lads’ retort, drunken no doubt, upon hearing someone say, “How about calling the band The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse?”

That Old Serpent

In the Book of the Apocalypse, the serpent awaits as the “woman clothed with the sun” gives birth, poised to devour her child, “that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world.”

The snakes have finally made good on their vow to return. The Republic of Ireland may this year yield to their seduction and legalize abortion on demand. I lived in Dublin in the early 1980s. One of the most fashionable student accessories at Trinity College was a light-green button. Its navy-blue block capital letters declared, “I’M AGAINST THE AMENDMENT.” That’s the Eighth Amendment to Ireland’s Constitution acknowledging “the right to life of the unborn.” There was many a boisterous and blasphemous student demo. Still, it was enacted by referendum in 1983. It got 67 percent support and 54 percent turnout.

The snakes have finally made good on their vow to return. The Republic of Ireland may this year yield to their seduction and legalize abortion on demand.

Ireland’s current and first openly-homosexual prime minister, Leo Varadkar, whose Hindu father was born in Mumbai, was four and a half at the time. Nearly three years ago 62 percent of Irish voters legalized same-sex marriage. The referendum enjoyed a more-than-60-percent turnout. By an even larger turnout Ireland had legalized divorce by the slimmest of margins in 1996. The Catholic Church strongly opposed both these changes, to no avail. As Steve’s oft-time companion in the Greenwich Village of the sixties, Bob Dylan, would say, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

Sin is at the root of the upheaval. The social ripples from the clergy underage sex scandals were immense. They gave a population 95 percent of whom attended Mass every Sunday a seeming moral license to defy the priests, the bishops, the Pope.

Save the Babies, Save the Eighth

Despite that revolution, today’s Save The Eighth movement is more than robust. As many as 100,000 marched in Dublin on March 11th, One of its leading supporters is Ireland’s most prominent hi-tech entrepreneur. Rivada founder Declan Ganley is a longtime critic of European Union excesses. He’s now even making some Trump-sounding populist noises. He warned that a sleeping giant has been roused. “There is a reason that the pro-choice lobby has been so consistently supported by UK abortion providers,” he said. “Just like Big Tobacco wants to create more smokers, and the alcohol industry wants more drinkers, the abortion industry is interested in acquiring more customers.”

Ganley said, “The often-cited and horrifying statistic that in the UK and Germany, a pre-natal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome will result in abortion more than 90 percent of the time should make us think.” He cautioned Ireland’s “political class”: the marching masses “are not represented by any political party.”

Deadly Cliches

Varadkar, however, is making the most of being an MD and former minister of health. He appreciates the subtlety an ongoing social revolution requires. In January he announced a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment. It’s expected in May. “We already have abortion in Ireland” through mothers getting abortions in Britain. Plus mailing for abortifacients from abroad. But “it is unsafe, unregulated and unlawful. We cannot continue to export our problems and import our solutions.”

Not surprisingly, his proposed new 36th Amendment does not mention the ugly word abortion: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.”

He is armed with the usual clichés. They’re long since battle-tested in one form or another on this side of the Atlantic. “For most of us, it’s not a black and white issue; it’s one that is gray… My own views have evolved… I believed we could no longer approach the issue with cold certainty but needed to do so with compassion.” And of course the contention that the Irish people will be undertaking “a collective act of leadership to show empathy…” Like last year, Varadkar will continue the long-standing St. Patrick’s Day tradition. He’ll present President Trump with a crystal bowl of shamrock at the White House.

Dubious Horror Stories

The Irish media’s tradition regarding abortion is to report horror stories. Like the 1991-92 “X Case.” A restraining order prevented a suicidal 14-year-old rape victim from traveling to England. It was later overturned by the Supreme Court. The girl miscarried.

The 1997 “C Case.” This was a 13-year-old rape victim apparently taken to Britain on false pretenses by a foster mother. “I didn’t understand what was happening,” she said in an interview years later. “There were social workers at the table…I thought I was getting the baby out…I remember waking up from the abortion and screaming and screaming and crying with the pain so they gave me another injection to fall back to sleep… I woke up then and I was in no pain so I asked for the baby and they told me there was no baby…I wouldn’t have wanted to keep the baby but I would have liked for it to be put for adoption.”

If abortion is legalized in the Irish Republic, the only part of the island where abortion is illegal will then be Protestant-majority Northern Ireland. St. Patrick is buried there.

Most infamous, however, was the case of a 31-year-old Indian-born dentist. Savita Halappanavar died after a sepsis miscarriage at 17 weeks in 2012. It spawned an Irish Times headline, “Woman ‘denied a termination’ dies in hospital.” Demonstrations ignited at several Irish embassies. India acted like a declaration of Hindu vs. Catholic war was in the works.

But the reporter is daughter of two longtime leftist activists. She admitted she didn’t know if Halappanavar had requested an abortion. There were investigations. The Galway hospital caring for her had previously performed abortions. This was to save mothers’ lives. That was in accordance with Irish law. But this time it failed. The hospital didn’t follow medical protocols. Nonetheless, the case was immediately hijacked by pro-abortionists. As Saul Alinsky advised, “never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

St. Patrick in Ulster

If abortion is legalized in the Irish Republic, the only part of the island where abortion is illegal will then be Protestant-majority Northern Ireland. St. Patrick is buried there. On the grounds of a Protestant cathedral in the Catholic town of Downpatrick. Where the devouring snakes he drove out have as yet not returned.


Thomas McArdle was a White House speechwriter for President George W. Bush and is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin

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