News Politics

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Exclusive: Labour poised to lose at least two TDs over abortion bill

TD Ciara Conway (Lab) pictured in Waterford City. Picture; GERRY MOONEY.
TD Ciara Conway (Lab) pictured in Waterford City. Picture; GERRY MOONEY.
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

LABOUR is poised to lose at least two TDs over Clare Daly's controversial abortion bill, independent.ie can reveal.

Waterford deputy Ciara Conway is understood to be preparing to vote against the government this evening.

A second Labour TD, Wicklow's Anne Ferris, has also said she will support Ms Daly's bill, which proposes to allow terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

Asked about her intentions, Ms Conway refused to say what way she will vote until she discussed the matter with her constituency colleagues.

She refused to deny, when asked by independent.ie, whether she will support the bill when it is voted upon after 5pm.

However, it's understood that Ms Conway has already privately indicated that she will vote against the government.

Read more: Joan Burton facing Labour party revolt as backbenchers consider supporting abortion bill

The news has come as a major blow to Tanaiste Joan Burton, who will come under intense pressure this afternoon to allow a free vote in the issue.

Other deputies have already said they will wait until after today's parliamentary party meeting before deciding which way to vote.

These include Clare's Michael McNamara and Dublin's Sean Kenny.

Ms Ferris will today demand that Tanaiste Joan Burton sanctions a free vote on Clare Daly's abortion bill.

The Wicklow deputy is refusing to budge on her position - despite the prospect of being booted out of the parliamentary party.

Ms Ferris has told supporters that she has received a barrage of support from constituents and female voters over her stance on fatal foetal abnormalities.

She has not been contacted by Ms Burton or other senior party figures since it emerged she is intending to vote against the government.

Ms Ferris has told her close associates that she is prepared to lose the party whip but that she believes such a prospect would be "deeply unfair".

It's understood that she will strongly call for a free vote on the issue at this afternoon's meeting of the parliamentary party. However, Labour chairperson Jack Wall has categorically ruled out the prospect of a free vote on the bill.

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