| 2.4°C Dublin

Taoiseach urges against celebratory scenes if public votes in favour of repeal


Leo Varadkar. Photo: INM

Leo Varadkar. Photo: INM

Leo Varadkar. Photo: INM

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last night insisted Fine Gael would not celebrate if the electorate voted in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Addressing his parliamentary party, the Taoiseach said Fine Gael had no celebrations planned if the public decided to vote in favour of repeal.

Mr Varadkar also said it is not party policy to take credit for removing the article from the Constitution if the referendum passes.

He urged against celebratory scenes if the public votes in favour of introducing a more liberal abortion regime.

The Taoiseach was addressing his party for the last time before tomorrow's vote on a constitutional change, which could result in the introduction of abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The large majority of Fine Gael TDs and senators support a Yes vote in the referendum.

However, senior party figures believe around 20 parliamentarians will vote to retain the Eighth Amendment.

The Taoiseach has been campaigning to repeal the Constitutional amendment as have the vast majority of his Cabinet.

Earlier in the day, Mr Varadkar was urged to correct the Dáil record by Fianna Fáil stalwart Éamon Ó Cuív.

Mr Ó Cuív questioned comments made by the Taoiseach in the Dáil regarding his contribution on RTÉ's 'Six One News'.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Mr Varadkar accepted he wrongly suggested the Fianna Fáil TD said the Government could decriminalise the abortion pill or decriminalise women who seek abortions.

"I accept that the deputy did not say he would be in favour of decriminalising abortion pills. If there is a No vote on Friday, it will still be a criminal offence," he said.

However, the Taoiseach said it was "bizarre" Mr Ó Cuív believed a criminal offence would not be enforced.

"Why would one keep something as a crime if one does not think it should be enforced? I find that unusual," he said.

Meanwhile, the current restrictions on abortion could remain for some time, even if Ireland votes in favour of repeal on Friday.

While a majority of TDs and senators support repeal, there is no definite majority in support of the Government's legislative proposals and a number of TDs have expressed reservations about allowing unrestricted terminations up to 12 weeks.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh are voting Yes tomorrow, but it is not clear if they will vote in favour of the full legislation should the opportunity arise.

"I don't want to conflate the two issues; it'll be up to each elected individual representative across all parties and none," said Mr Creed yesterday.

Cabinet members Michael Ring and Denis Naughten are also undeclared on their positions.