ABORTION was thrust into the heart of the election yesterday as a newly formed pro-life alliance -- led by Eurovision winner Dana and former MEP Kathy Sinnott -- challenged party leaders to sign up to a pledge that they will not legislate for abortion.
The Ireland United for Life alliance told Taoiseach-in-waiting Enda Kenny to "man up" on his party's stance on the issue, saying Labour had already stated it would push for abortion legislation if in government.
The group said it wanted party leaders and election candidates to give a "binding pledge" to defend human life from conception to natural death. The alliance also wants parties to vow not to "dismantle" the Constitution and uphold the constitutional right of the people to decide on Ireland's "unique pro-life status".
The latest challenge on abortion comes as all of the five main parties have already set out their positions on the controversial issue.
Fine Gael has said it will establish an all-party committee to consider the implications of the recent European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling and would make recommendations.
Labour said it would legislate in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment in the 'X' case and the recent ruling by the ECHR.
Led by former Euro MEPs Kathy Sinnott and Dana Rosemary Scallon, the alliance yesterday claimed it is supported by more than 30 cross-community groups representing more than one million voters.
Setting out the group's mission statement, Dana said they wanted all the political parties to clarify their positions on legislation for abortion.
According to the alliance, Ireland without abortion was one of the safest countries in the world for pregnant women.
Although it supports medical intervention to save a mother's life, the direct and intentional killing of the unborn was never medically or morally justified.
Holding up a copy of the Constitution, Dana said that while it was less than 80 years old, there seemed to be some sort of move to get rid of it.
"We only have hope for the future if the voices of the people on the ground are listened to and respected. That is embedded in the Constitution and no political leader should attempt to rewrite or throw out our constitution," she said.
Niamh Ui Bhriain of the group Life Institute added: "Enda Kenny should man up and seize this opportunity to defend unborn children and he should act like the leader of a political party."