Wednesday 26 July 2017

Minister calls for free vote on abortion bill

Mr McGrath said the group will once again push for a free vote when TDs debate a motion from deputy Ruth Coppinger to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
Mr McGrath said the group will once again push for a free vote when TDs debate a motion from deputy Ruth Coppinger to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The Independent Alliance has an "ethos" that its TDs should be allowed a free vote on matters of conscience, according to Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath.

Mr McGrath said the group will once again push for a free vote when TDs debate a motion from deputy Ruth Coppinger to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

He cited the example of the House of Commons, where he said MPs often vote against party policy.

"The Independent Alliance have a clear position that we always vote on the issues," he told the Irish Independent.

"A free vote is our ethos. I don't know why people are jumping up and down about it. There are free votes in the House of Commons every day… there are Tories voting against their policies and disagreements on human issues, ethical issues and war issues."

However, Fine Gael sources have expressed deep unease about the prospect of allowing a free vote once again on this issue.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny allowed a free vote on a similar bill in July after the issue caused major tensions within Cabinet.

Addressing the Citizen's Assembly at Dublin Castle on Saturday, Mr Kenny called on those on both sides of the debate to "reflect before you react" on social media.

Mr Kenny condemned what he described as the "hounding" of individuals online as a result of their views on the Eighth Amendment.

"Social media has the Assembly within the reach and the sights of those with deeply-held views.

"Regrettably, we live in a time when an opposing view is no longer seen simply as a diverse opinion, or a topic worthy of debate," Mr Kenny said.

"Rather, we live in a time when diverse opinion has become something, or someone, to be pitied, to be ridiculed, and indeed, virtually hounded."

Irish Independent

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