Saturday 22 July 2017

FG and Labour TDs to toe the line

Michael Brennan and Fiach Kelly

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore have largely succeeded in calming their backbenchers on the abortion issue.

Both Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore have faced parliamentary party meetings where the issue came up.

Mr Gilmore told Labour TDs and senators it was not possible to rush through legislation to deal with the controversial abortion issue.

But he gave them a commitment that he and other Labour cabinet ministers would continue to work with Fine Gael ministers to get consensus on a solution.

Labour sources said there was general agreement at the parliamentary party meeting about the need to get legislation – rather than the regulation favoured by Fine Gael – to allow for an abortion where a mother's life is at risk.

Backbenchers have been reassured that the push for change in the wake of the tragic death of pregnant Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar (31) will continue.

"People are keeping a cool head. It'll get done," said a Labour source.

The Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting was understood to have been poorly attended. Dr Reilly told TDs and senators three replacements had been picked for the Savita inquiry team.

Mr Kenny said the report from the expert group on abortion will be published following next week's cabinet meeting, and the Dail and Seanad would have as much time as they wanted to debate it. There will be a Dail debate on the abortion report next Thursday.

"He basically said there'll be no time limit, you can talk as long as you want," one TD said.

And Labour sources said there were "no complaints" at the meeting about Mr Gilmore's approach to the issue – despite the fact that he was unable to achieve his goal of getting Dr Reilly to make a recommendation for action at next week's cabinet meeting.

Irish Independent

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