It’s that time of year again when all of the media become reminiscent of what a good job they did reporting last year. However, instead of being so morbid and assuming we won’t make it to next year, let us instead of looking back, look forward this time, and get in a great mood for Christmas and the New Year on the basis of all that is ahead of us in 2013, assuming we make it.
It was recently announced that 3,800 British troops will be returning from Afghanistan in 2013. This time last year the last of the US troops in Iraq were returning home for Christmas. 2013 is promising to bring the same joy to families across Britain as hundreds of US families experienced last year as families are reunited and hopefully, the world will move one step closer to peace.
However, before the soldiers’ stories hit our headlines the first thing likely to be brought to our attention in 2013 will be the EU Presidency, when Ireland will play hosts to our friends in the European Union. The EU Presidency (officially known as the President of the Council of Europe) rotates every six months between the 27 Member States. It was last in Ireland in 2004. That Presidency was marked by the accession of ten additional states, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia to the Union. In contrast, the priorities of this Presidency, announced this week, will revolve around European recovery as opposed to European expansion.
Moving to the domestic political scene, 2013 will see Oireachtas debates on incoming abortion legislation. Finally, Ireland will confront one of the most divisive social issues of the last 20 years. However, resolution of the abortion debate as a result of the legislation is unlikely. The Government has said it will legislate for the X Case. Such legislation will fulfil our EU obligations under the ABC judgment which requires us to pass law clarifying one’s right to an abortion. However, the legislation will not create abortion on demand or extend the option to where there is a danger to the health of the mother. According to the X Case the mother’s life must be at risk in order for her to be entitled to an abortion. Thus, while the legislation is welcome, it will probably fail to satisfy neither Pro-Choice nor Pro-Life groups. It may, however, satisfy the general public. The big question raised was what will the impact of the Catholic Bishops’ condemnation of the introduction of legislation have on the public’s acceptance of the legislation proposed? Will the Bishops alienate people? Will people want to go further than the proposed legislation in order to demonstrate that the Church is not a political player in our country? Or will the Bishops’ condemnation touch on genuine fears of the public and make the public wary of supporting the legislation, or at the very least, of supporting anything more extensive than abortion when there is a risk to the life of the mother?
Other social issues to hit the headlines globally will be women’s rights, particularly in light of South Korea electing its first female President, Park Geun-hye and the growing women’s rights movement in Saudi Arabia. In the US the Supreme Court will hear cases on the constitutionality of the Federal Defence of Marriage Act or DOMA, as it is more colloquially known. DOMA is the federal government’s recognition of marriage as that between a man and a woman and the mechanism by which the federal government refuses to recognise same-sex marriage, though same-sex marriage is recognised as legal by individual States.
On the lighter side of things, the GAA season looks set to be an exciting one with last year’s season raising all sorts of questions across all of the sports. New teams have emerged as competitors in both hurling and football as both Wexford and Cork begin to establish reigns of Kilkenny’s standard over camogie and ladies football, respectively. The Lions Tour will kick off in June against Barbarians and all year long there will be events going on across the country as part of The Gathering. While on the other side of the Irish Sea the whole world is waiting with baited breath for a royal baby (I for one am hoping that the child gets their mother’s good looks).
2013 is set to be an exciting year; new life will be born, wars will be brought one step closer to an end and rights will be fought for. Families will be reunited, new teams will rise and fall and Motley will be following it all for you. As you sit down by the fire this Christmas, don’t pick up the traditional article on what happened in the year gone-by, lift your spirits to a new height by thinking of all the great things to look forward to in 2013. There will be plenty of time to reminisce in the future.