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Wednesday 21 February 2018

Dail abortion debate axed over lack of speakers

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE Government has abandoned an extra Dail sitting day planned for an abortion debate because there are not enough TDs willing to fill speaking time.

The Dail usually only sits on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, but a five-day sitting was planned for next week to deal with the Budget and abortion.

Monday was to be entirely given over to a debate on the abortion, with the Coalition committed to making a decision on how to deal with the issue before Christmas.

But government chief whip Paul Kehoe said the Dail will now resume on Tuesday morning at 11am, and not Monday morning as had been initially planned.

Mr Kehoe said there had been numerous private members' motions on abortion in recent weeks and months, and TDs did not want to repeat their positions again.

It is also understood a number of deputies want to wait until after the government decision before speaking on the issue. Mr Kehoe said any government TD who wanted to speak had been allocated time, and claimed few members of the opposition had contributed to the debate so far.

In a further show of poor Dail attendance, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar was forced to call a quorum yesterday because there were so few TDs in the Dail chamber as he spoke on CIE.

A quorum of 20 TDs is needed for a Dail debate to proceed, and Mr Kehoe claimed no opposition member was in the chamber while Mr Varadkar was speaking.

Irish Independent

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