JUNIOR Minister Lucinda Creighton has appealed for a rational debate on the controversial abortion issue after receiving "vile" threatening letters.
She revealed that she has received vicious personal and threatening correspondence from both pro-life and pro-choice groups.
But she appealed for a rational debate which was respectful of people’s opinions on abortion.
“That has been absent from the debate so far and I hope that will change as the weeks go by and as we face into this very important decision-making process,” she said.
The Junior Minister for European Affairs told RTE’s Morning Ireland that the abortion debate was traditionally very emotive in this country.
“I think we’re all well aware of that and in a sense, we’re all prepared and bracing ourselves for what is going to be a particularly sensitive debate in the first part of this year,” she said.
The Oireachtas Health Committee is due to begin its hearings next week in the Seanad chamber on the Government’s plan to introduce legislation plus regulation to allow for abortion where a mother’s life is at risk.
Ms Creighton has already spoken of how she is going to "struggle" to decide on how to vote on the abortion issue despite her position as Junior Minister in the coalition Government.
She is one of a number of Fine Gael TDs who are concerned about the possibility of abortion legislation designed to protect the life of the mother leading to “abortion on demand”. She said that issue of suicide being used as a grounds for a termination was a “grey area” which she did not favour.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has admitted that he has taken no additional safety measures in the wake of a threatening letter that was sent to him before Christmas over his stance on abortion.
Speaking to the Irish Independent after a Mass in the Dublin parish of St Therese in Mount Merrion to mark the World Day of Peace, the Primate of Ireland confirmed that he had received no further threatening correspondence and that the gardai were investigating one single letter.
In the letter, the prelate was told to "be careful when you leave your home and go out on the streets", suggesting that he might be the subject of an attack in reprisal for his strong stance against any liberalisation of the law on abortion.
He said: "These are things that happen to anybody who says anything in life. There have been no other threats."