Irish superstar Liam Neeson has divided opinion after adding his support to a campaign to see abortion decriminalised in Ireland.
Neeson provided the voiceover for an Amnesty International short film which highlighted the issue of abortion and says that the laws on the matter were written ‘for a different time’.
In the film Neeson says: “A ghost haunts Ireland. A cruel ghost of the last century still bound to the land. It blindly brings suffering, even death, to the women whose lives it touches.”
The black and white video features several shots of graves and crosses to represent the fate of the women who lost their lives as a result of not being allowed to have an abortion in Ireland.
Neeson says: “It’s time to lay this ghost to rest.”
Father Ted creator Graham Linehan also worked on the film. When Linehan and his wife Helen lived in England they had to terminate her pregnancy.
Helen’s procedure was necessary due to a fatal fetal abnormality, and the child would not have survived for an hour outside the womb. However, if they had undergone the termination in Ireland she could have gone to jail for up to 14 years.
Linehan said: “Ireland’s abortion laws are among the most restrictive and punitive in the world and that is why it was important to me to make this film.”
Abortion is an issue that keeps coming back to the forefront in Ireland with many Pro-choice politicians and media commentators unable to find any room for debate with their traditional Pro-life counterparts and vice-versa.
Polls show that two thirds of the Irish public are in favour of decriminalising abortion.
Ireland has fallen behind much of the Western world on the matter of abortion. Many young women have been forced to make the journey across the Irish Sea to Britain in order to have the procedure carried out in a safe and legal manner.
The fact that this option is available to Irish women has led to politicians being accused of burying their heads in the sand and refusing to tackle the abortion issue head on.
While the issue is close to the hearts of Neeson and Linehan, it is still extremely divisive and the actor has come in for some stern criticism over the advert.
Matthew Archibold of the National Catholic Register said that the advert was ‘anti-Catholic’.
He wrote in his blog: “For an elongated time of the ad, the camera focuses on a cross in the ground, while Neeson says, ‘It blindly brings suffering, even death, to the women whose lives it touches.’ All the while, the old abandoned church in ruins stands as a desolate backdrop.”
Take a look at Amnesty International’s short film, narrated by Liam Neeson below.