Junior ministers reveal abortion views as 14 TDs stay undeclared
Government chief whip Joe McHugh says he has "strong reservations" about the proposal to allow access to abortion up to 12 weeks - but he will be voting Yes in the referendum.
Two other junior ministers also set out their views on repealing the Eighth Amendment in response to renewed queries from the Irish Independent. Junior Health Minister Catherine Byrne confirmed she would support Yes, while OPW Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran said he is against repeal.
But with just days to go until the referendum, 14 TDs - including some ministers - have still not declared where they stand on the question to be put to the people on Friday.
Donegal TD Mr McHugh said he supported repeal because he believed that taking the abortion issue out of the Constitution was the right thing to do.
"However, I have strong reservations around the issue of access to abortion up to 12 weeks and if the referendum is passed I will be working with my colleagues to ensure the legislation will reflect these concerns as it passes through the legislative process," he said.
Health Minister Simon Harris has proposed legislation that would allow abortions up to 12 weeks without the woman being required to give a reason for why she was seeking one.
The proposal, which would be put to a Dáil vote if the referendum is passed, has been put forward as a way of addressing cases of rape, incest and the availability of abortion pills online. Fine Gael TDs, like those of Fianna Fáil, are being allowed a free vote in the Dáil on abortion.
Dublin South-Central TD Ms Byrne confirmed she would support repeal, but remained undeclared on the 12 weeks proposal. She said she would give the proposed legislation "careful consideration" when it was published in full and brought before the Dáil if the referendum passed.
Independent Alliance junior minister Mr Moran said he was against both repeal and the 12 weeks proposal. He said: "Everyone has to make up their own minds as to how they will vote. That is my position and I'd rather voters reached their own decision on this issue."
The 14 undeclared TDs include senior ministers Michael Ring and Denis Naughten as well as former Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former finance minister Michael Noonan.
Mr Naughten, the Independent Communications Minister, said he agreed with facilitating a referendum as "the people of Ireland are absolutely entitled to have their say on this issue".
But he said he would not be engaging in the campaign and said he believed people should "make up their own mind by listening to all aspects of the issues".
"I am firmly of the view that any decision on this topic is a deeply personal one and people should not be influenced one way or the other by politicians," he added.
Junior ministers who have not outlined their position are Paul Kehoe, Damien English, Pat Breen, David Stanton and Seán Kyne.
Mr Breen said he wouldn't declare, feeling the Constitution was not the correct place for abortion to be dealt with, but he also had "difficulties" with the 12 weeks proposal.
He said the people would "ultimately decide" on whether or not to repeal and he would "respect that decision".
Overall 92 TDs support repeal, 52 are opposed and 14 undeclared.