Saturday 17 March 2018

Fianna Fail accused of trying to 'shut down' debate on abortion

Aodhan O Riordan
Aodhan O Riordan
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

FIANNA Fáil has today been accused of trying to "shut down" any debate on the issue of abortion.

Labour Party minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said that while Fine Gael has agreed to a process to examine the issue, Fianna Fáil is trying to dodge the discussion entirely.

“I think the question needs to be asked of Fianna Fail, who are presenting themselves as the republican party, as to why they want to stand over a regime of  4,000 women per year travelling to England, be their life at risk, or their health at risk, or their mental health at risk, or in cases of fatal foetal abnormality,” Mr O'Ríordáin said.

"Fianna Fáil are shutting down this conversation entirely," he added.

The minister made the remarks at the launch of his party's plans for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal status to the life of the mother and the unborn.

The party says it will insist on starting the process of holding an abortion referendum by the summer if they are involved in the upcoming Programme for Government negotiations.

Communications Minister Alex White said it is “high time” voters are given the right to choose, by way of a referendum, whether the Eighth Amendment should remain in the Constitution.

While declining to give a date for a referendum, Mr White indicated that it will be a red line issue for the party if returned to Government.

It is envisaged, under the Labour proposals, that terminations will be available in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape, incest or when there is a risk to the woman’s physical or mental health in the early stages of pregnancy.

While insisting he will not dictate to other politicians how they answer questions on this issue, Mr White said it “behoves” candidates to give a response to serious issues on the campaign.

He also said the views held Taoiseach Kenny on certain social issues have evolved.

“People have positions, very heartfelt positions that change and the country has changed.  I don’t want to comment directly on the Taoiseach, but in fairness to him he changed on other issues . If you look at the marriage equality question, many people in fine gael evolved their thinking on that question,” Mr White said.

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