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Tuesday 26 September 2017

'I had to bury my daughter' - TD Richard Boyd-Barrett on his experience with fatal foetal abnormality

David Kearns

TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Dáil today of his own personal tragedy when he had to bury his daughter Ella after she was diagnosed with a condition “incompatible to life”.

In a speech on Clare Daly’s private members’ bill on fatal foetal abnormalities today, the People before Profit TD spoke of how his daughter would have been 13 years old this month, saying she was a child “we desperately wanted” but was a victim “of the cruelty of nature”.

In an emotional address, he told the hushed Dail chamber that she had been diagnosed with a condition which was “incompatible to life,” and he described his family’s grief.

“It was a beautiful spring day exactly like today when we had to bury her. Myself, her mother and her two brothers think about her every day. We have a tree, which a friend of ours kindly gave us at the time, planted on Killiney Hill to remind us of her and we go up there every year to remember her and think about how she might still be here,” he said.

Deputy Boyd Barrett said that he and his partner “went to the ends of the earth” seeking alternative medical opinions, “but there was no doubt about it”.

Independent TD Clare Daly has proposed amendment to the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act that would allow abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

TD Richard Boyd-Barrett
TD Richard Boyd-Barrett
Independent TD Clare Daly

The Dun Laoghaire deputy was one of around a dozen TDs who spoke on Deputy Daly’s amendment on fatal foetal abnormalities. A vote on the bill will be taken in the Dáil next Tuesday.

Mr Barrett later went on Jonathan Healy's Lunchtime show on NewsTalk to discuss the “intolerable circumstances” his partner and himself went through.

“All the issues about abortion generally and constitutional prohibitions simply don't apply because it is not possible to protect a life if that life is incompatible with life,” he said.

Read More: 'Deep concern' within Labour over plan to oppose Daly abortion Bill

Speaking on the radio programme, Mr Boyd-Barrett admitted that it was difficult to talk about the issue but that he stated that everyday in Ireland there were other families are going through the same.

Commending the families who have opened up about the issue, he said: “Whatever needs to be done should be done.”

Thirteen years ago, Richard and his partner were about to have a daughter. They discovered very late that she had a condition that was “incompatible with life and she couldn't survive”.

“The least we can do ensure that [parents] have the right to decide how the inevitable ending of life occurs,” he said.

"Whether they will have all the support and comfort a backup that we can give them in a situation where tragedy is inevitable – that's the choice.”

Clare Daly is urging the Government to accept her bill, saying that Ireland was failing to protect women who are pregnant with foetuses which have fatal abnormalities.

Minister Leo Varadkar, however, said the Government cannot allow unconstitutional legislation to pass in the Dail.

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