21 Fianna Fáil TDs vote against holding abortion referendum
There was shock in the Dáil yesterday after 21 Fianna Fáil TDs voted against the staging of an abortion referendum.
The second stage of a bill allowing for a referendum was passed by a large majority of the Dáil.
It later passed through committee stage and was sent to the Seanad for consideration.
A Dáil majority of 110 to 32 will allow the Government to press ahead with plans to hold the vote before the end of May.
Just two Fine Gael TDs voted against the Bill, Peter Fitzpatrick and Seán Barrett. However, there was surprise around Leinster House at the number of Fianna Fáil TDs who voted against. They were; Bobby Aylward, Declan Breathnach, Mary Butler, Jackie Cahill, Pat Casey, Shane Cassells, Jack Chambers, John Curran, Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher, Seán Haughey, Marc MacSharry, John McGuinness, Aindrias Moynihan, Margaret Murphy O'Mahony, Eugene Murphy, Kevin O'Keeffe, Frank O'Rourke, Éamon Ó Cuív, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith and Niamh Smyth.
A senior party source said: "It's ridiculous. This could will come back to haunt us down the line.
"Everybody was fine with people having different opinions - but we didn't expect that many to vote against simply having a referendum."
Eight Independent TDs voted against. Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan was the only one of its TDs to vote against party lines on the issue. She was suspended from the party for three months after a meeting with party whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Meath TD Peadar Tóibín was not present but had previously made it clear he opposes repeal of the Eighth Amendment. A Sinn Féin spokesman said he had made the party aware he would be unavailable yesterday because of a "family matter".
Last night Mr Tóibín backed calls for a referendum. "Personally, as people know, I strongly oppose the Eighth Amendment being deleted from the Irish Constitution. However, at this stage I believe that there should be a referendum."
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there would not be a second referendum on the issue in the lifetime of this Government.
Mr Varadkar told the Dáil: "The Government will respect the result of the referendum so if the result is passed I hope people respect that. If the referendum is defeated then the Government will respect it."
A May vote has been targeted with the intention of maximising the number of people who can participate before students leave for the summer holidays.
It came as Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy called on Kerry Independent Danny Healy-Rae to withdraw "hurtful" comments he made to Health Minister Simon Harris about people who terminated a pregnancy after the diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.
"I surely do know that the little dead baby did not feel very loved and it would make not a difference whether the baby was in the boot of a car in London or the north of Ireland or the south of Ireland," Mr Healy-Rae said during the debate on Tuesday night.