Sunday 25 February 2018

All the reaction

Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan

Q LABOUR Party TDs welcomed the anticipated passing of the abortion legislation as a "great day for the women of Ireland".

The junior coalition party had long promised to legislate for abortion where a woman's life was at risk – including on the grounds of suicide.

The issue featured only briefly at Labour's parliamentary meeting, with TDs assured that it was going ahead in its current form.

But Labour Wicklow TD Anne Ferris said it was something that she and the party had campaigned for over two decades. "It's a great day for the women of Ireland," she said.

Labour Galway West TD Derek Nolan said the party did not get any joy out of legislating on such a sensitive subject.

"There's nobody in the Labour Party popping champagne corks. But it's an important achievement for women's right to life," he said.

There was little sympathy for junior minister Lucinda Creighton, who is set to lose her job and the party whip for opposing the legislation.

Q FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin said he has not pressured any of his TDs on the abortion issue, after two-thirds of them previously voted against the bill – and his own personal position on the issue.

Mr Martin granted his party's TDs and senators a free vote on the issue, but 13 of his 19 deputies voted against the bill in its early stages last week, a higher level than expected.

Mr Martin yesterday said people could vote with their consciences.

"It's up to every single deputy in our party to vote whatever way they wish this evening, and on the amendments as well," he said.

"I haven't gone around asking people, nor did I do that before the last vote, I put no pressure on anybody.

"I've never tried to persuade anybody in the parliamentary party to change their deeply held views on this issue. If you have a freedom of conscience vote, you have a freedom of conscience vote," he added.

Q SINN Fein is taking disciplinary action against Peader Toibin after he was expected to break ranks to vote against the abortion bill.

The Meath West TD became the first in the history of modern Sinn Fein to vote against the party whip on the second stage of the bill last week.

Mr Toibin said the bill was a political compromise hatched by Fine Gael and Labour – and was not based on any medical evidence to justify allowing abortion on the grounds of suicide.

"The whole of the bill that contains treatments that are founded on medical evidence I can wholeheartedly support. When we start to compose policy outside of medical evidence, we get into trouble," he said.

A spokesman said that a disciplinary process is ongoing – and that the party would announce the result when it was completed.

He is expected to lose the party whip at a minimum – but it is not clear if the party will allow him to run under the Sinn Fein banner in the next general election.

Q A GROUP of six left-wing, pro-choice, opposition TDs declared they were voting against the abortion legislation on the grounds it doesn't go far enough.

Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Richard Boyd Barrett, Joan Collins and Luke 'Ming' Flanagan were joined by Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins.

Roisin Shortall also said she could not support the bill, citing term limits as her main issue.

But Independent TDs John Halligan and Thomas Pringle said they were voting for the bill because it represented a step forward.

Five of the six voted for the legislation last week. Mr Higgins was absent for that vote due to the death of his mother. In a joint statement, the TDs said they were voting No because they had been "forced" to oppose the abortion bill as it "criminalises women and is unnecessarily restrictive". The group said the bill will not prevent another death like Savita Halappanavar. And the restrictions will cause doctors to delay terminations – putting women at risk.

Irish Independent

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