Saturday 16 December 2017

Creighton sets herself up to vote against abortion bill

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton

Fiach Kelly, Political Correspondent

EUROPEAN Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton has set up herself to vote against the abortion bill by demanding that substantial changes be made to the Coalition’s legislation.

“It is not a religious issue, it is a human rights issue,” she added. “The question of abortion is not a liberal issue, far from it.”

Ms Creighton said she did not want to leave a Government that is working to fix the economy, but said she must look to her conscience.

“Who else or what else can I consult?” she said.

However, she did not take a final position on the bill, saying she is hopeful changes can be made to the legislation.

It is likely she will vote for the initial stages of the bill this week, and reserve judgement until a final vote is taken later this month.

The Dublin South-East TD said she is “deeply concerned" about the suicide clause which could “normalise” suicide ideation and wants it removed.

She also said that at “an absolute minimum” term limits must be applied to abortion, adding Health Minister James Reilly had committed to accepting changes.

“I take him at his word and I assume substantive amendments based on evidence and not just procedural ones,” Ms Creighton told the Dail.

She also said her party Fine Gael was at various elections was "unashamedly" and often "stridently" pro life.

Meath West Fine Gael TD Damien English, who was seen as someone who could vote against the bill, indicated he will support it. Mr English said it would not lead to an "opening of the floodgates".

Fine Gael Longford-Westmeath TD James Bannon says he wants more clarity on abortion bill, and insisted he did not want abortion on demand.

He did not say which way he will vote but says he has "serious concern" around the suicide clause and called for another referendum.

Independent TD Roisin Shortall said her support is conditional on amendments, such as a sunset clause being included.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter described some of Ms Creighton's comments as "extraordinary", adding: "I hope this type of hyperbole will not feature in our discussions."

He said the current legislation is in no way liberal but is the "most restrictive and careful" law that could be drafted.

"What will continue and what will remain is a British solution to an Irish problem," he said.

Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick, who was also one of those uncomfortable with the bill, said his concerns had been eased by Health Minister James Reilly.


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