independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Lucinda's mind made up to vote against bill

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton

LUCINDA Creighton will make a last-ditch effort to have significant changes made to the abortion legislation, but is preparing to vote against it.

The European Affairs Minister is understood to have made her mind up to vote against the legislation and lose the Fine Gael whip and her ministerial post.

Friends of Ms Creighton told the Irish Independent last night the Dublin South-East TD is also thinking about not running in the next general election.

"The problem with (Environment Minister) Phil Hogan and his ilk is they think their mind games will work with her – they won't," a close associate said.

"They don't understand that. They have never been able to think outside of Leinster House."

Ms Creighton will become the highest-profile casualty of the abortion

legislation fallout, assuming she follows through on her pledge.

She will table a series of amendments to the abortion legislation today, but knows they will not be accepted by the Government.

The changes centre on her opposition to the absence of term limits and the suicide clause in the legislation. She has told allies openly and directly: "I won't vote for the legislation."

CANDIDATES

Ms Creighton still wants to stand for Fine Gael in the next general election, despite Taoiseach Enda Kenny's threat that the rebels will not be candidates.

But the 33-year-old is also talking to friends about packing in politics next time out.

Before the last general election, she only made her mind up to run again as the campaign approached.

"She is not going to be one of those TDs who only thinks about being a politician. She is a Fine Gaeler at heart and she'll still be a member of the party. She doesn't ever want to feel she needs politics," a friend said.

Ms Creighton met with Health Minister James Reilly earlier this week about the abortion legislation.

But he did not assuage any of her concerns and friends say he only made matters worse.

She also spoke with Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the issue when they travelled to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

"She's not looking for anyone to come begging her for her vote," a friend said.

Fellow Fine Gael TDs opposed to the abortion legislation and threatening to vote against it are coming under extreme pressure from their local party organisations to support it.

Within Mr Kenny's own constituency of Mayo, local TDs John O'Mahony and Michelle Mulherin are still on the doubtful list.

John Paul Phelan from Carlow-Kilkenny, who is politically and personally close to Ms Creighton, is also deeply conflicted, and his vote is still in the balance.

Fine Gael's hierarchy are continuing to adopt a hardline with the rebels, insisting they will not be running for the party in the next general election, with this stipulation particularly applying to Ms Creighton.

"She won't be running. She won't be taken back," a senior party source said. But the list of potential rebels is shrinking as the final vote approaches.

"There will be an immense effort to terrorise people. They are picking off the weakest. People are concerned about future, careers and back pockets," a party source said.

Longford Westmeath TD James Bannon, seen as a potential rebel, says he has not fully made his mind up on how he will vote, but is dropping strong hints that he will support the bill.

Mr Bannon said he had been speaking with experts who assured him the legislation "is very restrictive and will not lead to abortion on demand".

Already this week, Meath West TD Ray Butler said he would be supporting the legislation.

Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick is also regarded as being on board.

Irish Independent

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