Monday 24 July 2017

Varadkar has 'no difficulty' with abortion referendum before next summer

Thousands of people took part in the annual ‘Rally for Life’ march in Dublin over the weekend. They were met by Pro-Choice groups campaigning to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Thousands of people took part in the annual ‘Rally for Life’ march in Dublin over the weekend. They were met by Pro-Choice groups campaigning to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

LEO Varadkar has said he will have “no difficulty” with a referendum on abortion taking place before next summer if the wording can be finalised by then.

The Taoiseach told the Dáil that he has “no interest" in putting the issue, asking the public whether they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal rights to a mother and her unborn child, on the long finger.

“This issue has been discussed for a very long time and I think people should have their say,” he said.

Asked by Labour Party TD Joan Bruton said it would “highly desirable” if the vote took place “shortly after March and perhaps before the middle of June 2018”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Collins Photos
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Collins Photos

She noted that Pope Francis is due to visit Ireland in August next year and the referendum “should not become embroiled in the visit”.

“We want a respectful debate,” she said.

Mr Varadkar noted that an Oireachtas committee is going to begin hearings on the topic in September and should deliver a report before the end of year with potential wording for legislation.

“If it is possible to have it done before the summer of next year, I would have no difficulty with that, but I do not want to make a commitment in the House here that that is possible and then suddenly have to come back into the House in March and April and say that it cannot be done for various reasons,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said if the referendum can be held in the first six months of 2018 then “that is fine with me”.

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