I always have and always will respect that there are different views, beliefs and opinions on this issue, however, the outcome on Saturday and the resounding "Yes" from the people of Ireland to repeal the eighth amendment was one of the proudest moments for me in over five years that I have been in this House. As a citizen of Ireland, it represents a seismic shift and change in our society, especially for the women in this country. I am proud if I played any small part in bringing about that change.
Much of what needed to be said has been said, so I want to thank the people who have played a part, large or small, in this process. I thank the people who campaigned against inserting the eighth amendment into the Constitution in 1983, those who had the foresight to know that it would not save lives but would in fact cost lives. I thank the women, men and organisations who have campaigned since then, many of whom made it their life's ambition to remove the eighth amendment from the Constitution. I thank the Members of the Dáil and Seanad, those in Governments past and those in the current Government. I thank Deputies Ruth Coppinger and Clare Daly for bringing forward proposals and legislation, although they were not compatible with the eighth amendment, and for keeping this issue on the agenda and for continuously trying to do so, even when it was not the popular thing to do.
Our former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, understood what the people of this country needed and had the foresight to recognise that this decision had to come from the citizens of this country. I thank him for bringing this to the Citizens' Assembly and the work he has done in that regard. I thank the members of the Citizens' Assembly and its chair for the time they gave to the assembly, for listening so carefully to the evidence presented to it and for their recommendations.
I thank the joint committee on the eighth amendment, and particularly to my colleagues, the Chairman, Senator Catherine Noone, for her exemplary work and the manner in which she chaired the committee, Senator Jerry Buttimer, Deputies Peter Fitzpatrick, Hildegarde Naughton, Bernard Durkan and, in particular, Kate O'Connell, many of whom have come on their own journeys along the way. I thank the members from all political parties for the difference they have made, the many hours of listening to expert medical and legal advice, and the most important advice, which came from the men and women of this country who have been impacted by the eighth amendment.
I thank our Taoiseach, Deputy Leo Varadkar, for staying true to his word, for listening and understanding that the people of Ireland would make the right decision. I thank him for setting a date for the referendum so quickly. I thank the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, for treating this issue with such care and for bringing forward legislation, and having set the wheels in motion already for legislation that I believe will allow the women and the doctors of Ireland to make the right decisions for them and their families in their own situations.
I thank the Members of this House from all parties, the people who work in their offices and those from all the organisations who came together and said "Together for Yes", including Ailbhe Smyth, Orla O'Connor and Gráinne Griffin, the people who knocked on doors, who canvassed, dropped in literature, put up posters and who had the difficult conversations that they never thought that they would have. To the many people who came on their own journeys - a phrase that we can probably get rid of now - I thank them sincerely for the difference they have made, and I particularly thank the young women and men who put their names on the register for the first time, who campaigned and made a difference. I ask them to please continue to be involved, to campaign and to make a difference because they are the kind of people that this country needs and will depend on in the years to come.
Finally, to the women who lost their lives because of the eighth amendment, their families who told their stories and the women of this country who told their stories when they never should have had to, I thank them for opening so many eyes to reality. As a young woman, I will be forever grateful.