Friday 15 December 2017

Creighton keen to ensure she has say in abortion debate

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

EUROPEAN Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton has requested more Dail time be given over to the abortion debate so she can make it back in time from EU business to speak on the contentious issue.

Ms Creighton has yet to decide if she will support the controversial legislation, which will be debated in the Dail next week.

However, she was concerned that she would not be able to speak in the opening rounds of the debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill because she would be dealing with the final week of Ireland's EU presidency.

The Dublin South East TD asked Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe to extend the second stage debate on the bill from this Thursday until the following Monday.

"I requested that the debate be extended beyond next week so ministers, myself included, who are tied up in negotiations connected to the presidency next week, the last week (of it) would have an opportunity to speak," she said.

However, she has yet to decide if she will support the bill. "As I have said all along, I won't be taking any decision until we've gone through the parliamentary process," she said.

Dublin South TD Peter Mathews, who this week withdrew a motion at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting calling for a free vote because he could not get a seconder, has not given up his efforts to have the party whip dropped.

ARGUED

Mr Mathews circulated a petition calling for a free vote prior to Wednesday's parliamentary party meeting – but nobody backed his motion.

It is understood Mr Kehoe, who was in Washington DC for the 50th anniversary celebrations of JFK's visit to Ireland, spent hours on the phone convincing those who signed the petition not to support Mr Mathews at the party meeting.

In a speech at the Magill Summer School in 2010, Ms Creighton argued for the whip to be relaxed in certain circumstances and she says this is still her position.

At the time, she said: "In Ireland, however, the most stringent form of whip, the three line whip is imposed for every single vote. This demonstrates to me a lack of confidence amongst political parties."

Irish Independent

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