Saturday 22 October 2016

Referendum on repealing Eighth Amendment will be Labour Party priority - Tanaiste

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 26/09/2015 | 15:37

Labour Leader and Tanaiste Joan Burton TD
Labour Leader and Tanaiste Joan Burton TD

Tanaiste Joan Burton has said a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment will be a Labour Party priority in any future Programme for Government negotiations.

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She described the Eighth Amendment as one of the most "retrograde" parts of the Constitution, adding that it "cannot be changed soon enough".

Ms Burton said other political parties will "shy away" from the issue of abortion as the election nears in remarks that will be seen as a swipe at Labour's coalition partners Fine Gael.

The Labour Party leader surprised colleagues at the party's Ard Fheis in Wicklow after she said staging a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment was not a "red line issue".

Read more: ‘If people think it'll romp home, they're deluding themselves’ - Minister says vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment would be ‘trounced’

But in an email to party members ahead of today's pro-choice march in Dublin, Ms Burton said the party will ensure a referendum takes place if Labour is returned to Government.

"Other parties will shy away from it in the election, because they don't want to deal with this very difficult and sensitive issue," Ms Burton said.

"That's why anybody who wishes to see the Eighth repealed should vote Labour. If returned to Government, we will ensure that referendum - and fight for the right outcome," she added.

Ms Burton said she has asked an internal working group known as "Labour Women" to bring forward a "credible and detailed solution" that will form the basis of a manifesto commitment.

"As a woman, it horrifies me to think of the dreadful situations fellow women and their families have been placed in because of this provision."

"In any subsequent programme for government negotiations, a referendum to repeal the 8th would be a priority for Labour."

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