Communication with Colm Keaveney

Yesterday, Colm Keaveney TD posted the following comments on his Facebook page:

“I understand that there is a protest occurring outside my office on Saturday concerning the legislation currently before the Dáil – the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. I have only recently learnt of the protest through the local media.

People have a right to protest, a right that I have exercised myself in the past, and they most certainly have a right to engage with their public representatives on this or any other matter. However, I will note that the group concerned, Galway Pro-Choice, have never made any effort to meet with me nor have they contacted my office to make their views known.”

He was talking about the Galway Pro Choice protest that we have scheduled for 2:30pm tomorrow afternoon outside his constituency office in Tuam.

Colm is mistaken in his statement that we never tried to contact him. At 12:30pm on Monday the 26th of November last, I rang him as a representative of Galway Pro Choice in an effort to get him to vote for the X Case bill that was at that time before the Oireachtas. He would not accept any of my representations and actually hung up on me. What follows is a record of the phone call that took place, which I wrote directly after the call occurred. I haven’t edited it since. No need to thank me for jogging your memory for you Colm!

Record of phone call between Rachel and Colm Keaveney, 12:30 Monday 26th November 2012:

  • I told him I was representing Galway Pro Choice and asked him what
    way he planned to vote on Wednesday.
  • He said he planned to vote against it. He said he was waiting for the
    expert group report to be published. Talked about following
    ‘government strategy’. Claimed bill was politicising the issue and
    would be counterproductive. Said they had managed to bring along some
    prolifers in Fine Gael. Said it was about persuading middle Ireland.
  • I said middle Ireland was already way ahead of them on this. There
    was huge public support for legislation on X.
  • He said that this was the first government doing something about this
    for 20 years.
  • I said Labour had been in the previous governments that had done
    nothing about it.
  • Said that passing the bill would not mean legislation overnight, it
    would have to go to committee etc, could take 8 or 9 months.
  • I said does that mean there would be elements in the coalition
    trying to obstruct the passage of the bill after it was voted for.
  • He said no. He said it was naïve to expect that TDs would vote for
    the bill and break the whip. At one point he asked me to hold on and
    let him speak but then just repeated what he had said before about the
    expert group.
  • I said that we had heard all this before, it was nothing new, there
    had been four expert groups since 92 and it was just another example
    of kicking the can down the road on this issue.
  • He said it was naïve to expect that TDs would vote for the bill and
    break the whip.
  • I said that I didn’t think appealing to the conscience of public
    representatives was naïve and it would be very cynical to believe
    that.
  • He said I would be asking him to break the whip why would he do that
    and go against government strategy.
  • I said because women are dying in Irish hospitals. I said that
    government strategy was just to produce report after report until
    people stopped talking about the issue, that was government strategy
    and everyone knows it.
  • Got annoyed with me for not being in his constituency.
  • I told him I was from a group that represented a lot of women in Galway.
  • He said he also represented a lot of women in Galway.
  • I told him about our huge increase in support over the last couple of
    weeks, loads of new members, people signing our petitions in Shop
    Street etc.
  • He said angrily that Shop Street wasn’t in his constituency and I
    should contact Derek Nolan. He said that this bill would be divisive
    and counter-productive and make the whole process take longer.
  • I said he was the one politicising the issue because there was no
    good reason not to vote for the bill, only political considerations
    were making him vote against it. I said there were a lot of very angry
    people in Galway and many people specifically angry with Labour about
    this issue.
  • He said this was exactly the kind of politicisation he was talking
    about. He got even angrier and said that whoever was informing me
    about how the political process worked was incorrect and I had been
    misinformed and that I was being manipulated etc.
  • I said ‘Excuse me..’ and then he hung up on me.
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