Friday 21 July 2017

Fraught issue may hasten Taoiseach's departure

Leinster House (Stock picture)
Leinster House (Stock picture)
John Downing

John Downing

Now here's one reason why Taoiseach Enda Kenny might have few regrets leaving Government Buildings sooner rather than later.

The Citizens' Assembly - that group set up to take the heat out of Ireland's most divisive political and social issue - has voted to recommend an extensive liberalisation of abortion in Ireland. Now our political leaders have to move and make some decisions.

That will test the mettle of whoever replaces the Taoiseach and it may even hasten Mr Kenny's departure. The 'political parking' of this most fraught issue will soon come to an end and the history of the abortion debate is not encouraging as it has convulsed the nation.

It is headed back to what many of us always saw as the real citizens' assembly - our democratically elected parliament at Leinster House. The assembly's chairperson, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, will deliver that report on the Eighth Amendment, which has been with us through wave after wave of controversy since 1983, to a committee of TDs and senators within the next 10 weeks.

Three months later, that Oireachtas committee is required by law to inform the Dáil and Seanad of its verdict on the assembly's recommendations of this weekend which are headed for a referendum.

All of the main parties have internal divisions on the matter. That might prove helpful - provided there is skilful political leadership and the politics is taken out of the issue.

Irish Independent

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