Sunday 22 October 2017

Labour TD Ciara Conway 'undecided' over abortion bill vote

Ciara Conway
Ciara Conway

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

LABOUR TD Ciara Conway has said she remains undecided over whether she will vote against the government over Clare Daly's controversial abortion bill.

Ms Conway today indicated to supporters that she was preparing to support the bill in a move that would likely result in her losing the party whip.

But the Waterford deputy has this evening moved to clarify her position, telling independent.ie that she "honestly" hasn't came to a position.

"I honestly don't have my mind made up on it," Ms Conway said.

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

She added that she wants to "talk and listen" to her colleagues before deciding which way to vote.

Labour is already poised to lose Wicklow deputy Anne Ferris who has publicly said she will vote against the bill.

The news has come as a 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 was today due to demand that the party sanctions a free vote on Clare Daly's abortion bill.

At the meeting, held in Leinster House, Labour TDs and senators heard that the bill is unconstitutional. Addressing the meeting, Communications Minister Alex White said the advice from Attorney General Maire Whelan is that the legislation falls within the "ambit" of the Eighth Amendment and therefore cannot be support.

The Eighth Amendment gives equal status to both the mother and the unborn.

Earlier today, 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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