Sunday 23 October 2016

Taoiseach wants 'appropriate woman' to chair expert group examining changes to the eighth amendment

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

Published 23/02/2016 | 12:57

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Pic Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Pic Steve Humphreys

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said he wants "an appropriate woman" to chair an expert group examining changes to the eighth amendment.

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Mr Kenny was speaking was asked about the possibility of a referendum on full abortion rights in the lifetime of the next government.

"I've made my views on this known," he replied.

"Clearly it's an issue that's divided Irish society for so long and what I've set out is a process by which we can have a proper inclusive comprehensive discussion about all of this - a citizen's assembly.

"I struggle with this myself - I do. Our society has changed, it's values have changed.

"Courageous women have come forward to recount their experiences," he added.

He then referred to the eighth amendment which gives equal rights to a woman and her unborn child.

"The eighth amendment is there for 33 years. It's divided Irish society, polarised it on a number of occasions. I want this depoliticised," Mr Kenny said.

"I want a proper analysis and discussion, sensitive, dealing with the morality of it, the legality of it."

Mr Kenny mentioned an expert group "which I could expect would be chaired by an appropriate woman and work with the Oireachtas and all party committee."

"And if a consensus emerges from that" he said a referendum on its recommendations could be put to the Irish people.

"It is not as simple as saying change the eighth amendment, take out a bit of it, put something else back in.

"If you want to reflect the changed values of a changed society then you have to have a consensus.

"I have no wish to politicise a matter as personal and as sensitive as this," Mr Kenny added.

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