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‘I’m not a tough guy who is made out of steel’

Gaoth Dobhair’s Eamon McGee.


FORMER Donegal footballer Eamon McGee has robustly defended his involvement in the Donegal group campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote in the upcoming referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment.
The teak-tough Gaoth Dobhair defender, who also backed the ‘Yes’ camp in the marriage equality referendum, has been criticised for taking a public stance on the abortion referendum.
The All-Ireland winner returned to work in Letterkenny this week, five-weeks after the birth of twins Luca and Evie. With their older sister Daisy not celebrating her second birthday until June these are busy days around the McGee house.
Confirming that he had been the subject of online abuse, Mr McGee urged people to engage in meaningful conversation ahead of next month’s referendum.
“There have been comments made about me which aren’t nice. At the end of the day I’m a human being and, contrary to my football persona, I’m not a tough guy who is made of steel. I have feelings.
“They’re calling me a baby killer which, I must admit, annoys me a bit,” he said.
McGee stressed that religion had nothing to do with his views on the 8th Amendment.
“I’ve been described as a militant atheist in the past, but my partner Joanne is religious and I’ve come to learn to live and respect her beliefs. I support her beliefs, and while religion is not for me I have so much respect for a person’s faith.
“However, I don’t think this should be about religion,” he said.
“Basically I just want a safer country for women in Ireland. It’s an issue I’ve been following for some time. Initially my first reaction to abortion was a negative one, but as you get older you hear different things and you talk to women and some of the stories you hear are scary,” he added.
Mr McGee recently wrote a blog for the Yes campaign.
“It’s not often we have a situation where we can make a real change in society. Normally, in such cases, we hand over power to the politicians and leave it up to them. Here is a situation where we can do the change ourselves.
“There are people out there who don’t agree with my views. That’s fine. But let’s have the conversation and be respectful of one another. There’s no need to be so negative. We all have to move forward after this referendum – whether it’s a yes or no. We shouldn’t say anything we might regret and which may have lasting repercussions.
“I’ve had conversations with people who have since moved to the Repeal side while others have said no. That’s fair enough. We shook hands afterwards and we still talk. These are all very passionate people, but there’s a difference between passion and anger and some of the stuff which has been said about me and my family is unacceptable,” he said.
The footballer said that he was Pro-Life.
“Personally, I can’t imagine a situation where we would go for an abortion. We’re lucky, but I know people who have had abortions and the shame and stigma that was put on them wasn’t fair. I can’t stand up and say that I would never endorse abortion because I don’t know of each and every situation that a woman may find herself in. I trust them to make the right decision for them,” he said.
Donegal Together For Yes will launch its campaign at 6pm this evening, Friday, in Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey.
The campaign will be launched by Mr McGee. Also speaking will be Orla O’Connor, director of the national Together for Yes campaign, Donegal TD Thomas Pringle and Nora Newell, Donegal Together for Yes.

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