FG broke election abortion promise: Martin
Archbishop says voters now left disillusioned
The future leader of the Irish Catholic Church has hit out at members of the Government who have failed to keep their pre-election promise not to introduce abortion.
Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin's criticism appears to be aimed at members of the Fine Gael party who pledged to oppose the legalisation of abortion ahead of the 2011 election.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent in Muff, Co Donegal, at a 'Welcome Home to Missionaries' event as part of The Gathering, the Archbishop warned that the disregard of pre-election promises was creating "disillusionment with the democratic system" among the electorate.
He said people were expressing that disillusionment to him as well as their concern that they were not being listened to by the Government.
Cardinal Sean Brady's future successor observed, "People want their political leaders to hear them and they are not sure at the moment if they are being listened to."
His comments came as Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted there would be no 'free vote' on the issue.
"I have already made it clear that my Government and the government parties will not be having a free vote on this matter," he said.
"Everyone who joins up in respect of the parties of Government knows the position in so far as sitting, acting and voting with the Government." He said the bill was "about saving lives, and I want to stress that very much".
But Archbishop Martin accused Government of failing to engage with the issues raised at the Oireachtas hearings.
"Big issues were raised . . . at the Oireachtas hearings which need to be discussed and yet all we are getting back from the Government is a mantra: we need to do this and that there will be no great change. People see this is a huge change," he said.
Backing Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin's call for a free vote for legislators, Archbishop Martin said: "On a subject like this, which is about life, I think each voter – in this case the politicians – must be allowed to search deep within themselves and engage with the big issues in this debate and then be allowed to vote accordingly."
"We care for all life. We are being portrayed as if we don't care about women – of course we do. We also know that our nurses and doctors care for life. The politicians will be gone, the legislators will be gone, but the nurses and doctors are the ones who will be expected to do this."
Meanwhile, up to 20,000 people attended a rally in Dublin to protest the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. The husband of Michaela McAreavey, John McAreavey, sent a video message of support to the rally in Merrion Square, which was attended by a number of Catholic bishops.