Sunday 22 April 2018

Proposal for two-thirds Dail majority to change future abortion law is 'unconstitutional' - Taoiseach

Leo Varadkar.
Leo Varadkar.
John Downing

John Downing

The Government will not insert a proviso requiring a two-thirds Dáil majority for any future change in planned abortion law, the Taoiseach has said.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney had sought the provision to be put into the outline draft law due to be cleared by the Cabinet. This would require a two-thirds majority of TDs to back any future changes in efforts to “lock in” the new legislation, which would take only effect provided the Eighth Amendment is repealed in a referendum next May.

Mr Coveney’s move is seen as an effort to reassure more conservative voters who do not trust politicians and fear quick moves to further liberalise abortion law.

But the idea was challenged by all the main parties who warned that it would breach Article 15 of the 1937 Irish Constitution which provides for all laws to made by “a majority” – taken to mean a simple majority.

After Dáil questions from Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, and Labour leader, Brendan Howlin, the Taoiseach said there would be no two-thirds proviso.

Mr Varadkar said the Attorney General’s legal advice was that such a measure would breach Article 15 of Bunreacht na hÉireann. “Therefore it can’t be included in this legislation,” Mr Varadkar said.

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