Fianna Fail members urged to endorse abortion ban
Fianna Fáil members will be asked to endorse existing party policy opposing any change to the 1983 constitutional amendment banning abortion.
Fianna Fáil national secretary, Dara Calleary, said the abortion motion was fully in line with existing party policy on the issue. Mr Calleary pointed out that the party's TDs and Senators have a "free vote" on legislation relating to issues like abortion.
Party officials expect that the motion will be passed by ard fheis delegates debating the issue at the RDS on Saturday morning. But the issue is a continuing source of tension in the parliamentary party.
In February, three TDs, Niall Collins, Billy Kelleher and Robert Troy, voted with Independent TD Clare Daly on her bill seeking abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.
The "free vote" came in July 2013 after Micheál Martin failed in attempts to get the party's TDs and senators to back limited abortion under the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill.
Mr Martin will hope this ard fheis, which sees 3,000 delegates gather at the RDS in Dublin tomorrow evening, can boost morale with the biggest political conference in the country.
Fianna Fáil still struggles to break a 20pc ranking in opinion polls - and is close to their catastrophic February 2011 General Election performance.
Delegates will also be asked to back a motion to abolish the television licence due to "lack of balance in RTE."
Fianna Fail members will be asked to back a 5pc “Cinderella levy” on alcoholic drinks sold after midnight.
The proposal is among 158 general items to be put before the 3,000 Fianna Fail members at the party’s Ard Fheis, which takes place at the RDS in Dublin this weekend.
Plenty of social events are scheduled around the two-day conference, including two nightly music sessions in the Ballsbridge Hotel. But the party is also set to debate serious business on family policy, health, justice, rural life, transport and other matters.
During the party’s health session, delegates will be asked to back a 5pc levy on alcoholic drinks sold after midnight.
The party’s national secretary, Dara Calleary, said he expected the members to take this as seriously as any other issue.
“We have serious problems with alcohol in Ireland and we’re looking at ways to deal with it,” the Mayo TD said.
He added that tackling alcohol abuse was part of the Fianna Fail health policy.
The move is jointly proposed by the Michael O’Hanrahan party branch from New Ross, and executive from the new constituency of Dublin Bay North.
There will be a special seminar on the forthcoming same-sex marriage referendum due to be held on May 22 next, and a workshop on election literature.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams launched a scathing attack on Michéal Martin accusing the Fianna Fáil leader of having “no policies” and that the party’s leadership was infected with “arrogance and delusion”.
Mr Adams said the Fianna Fáil leadership had strayed “very, very far from the party’s republican origins”
He added that Mr Martin’s party had offered no solutions to end austerity and were responsible for forcing “hundreds of thousands out of work and more into exile in Australia, Canada and elsewhere”.
The remarks followed a similar attack by Michéal Martin at the weekend in which he said Sinn Fein were not fit for government.