News Irish News

Sunday 21 October 2018

Government Chief Whip to adopt a similar stance to Tánaiste Simon Coveney on abortion referendum

The Donegal TD was widely reported to be opposed to repealing the Eighth Amendment – but will now back changes to existing laws

Chief whip: Joe McHugh Picture: Tom Burke
Chief whip: Joe McHugh Picture: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh is to adopt a similar stance to Tánaiste Simon Coveney on the abortion referendum.

The Donegal TD was widely reported to be opposed to repealing the Eighth Amendment – but will now back changes to existing laws.

However, he will stop short of supporting abortion on demand up to 12 weeks.

In a short statement today, Mr McHugh confirmed to Independent.ie: “Having informed myself over the past few weeks on this issue and having spoken to health professionals both in Ireland and in Britain, I will be supporting the holding of a referendum.

“I retain concerns over the Oireachtas Committee proposal for unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks. I will examine Minister Harris’s proposals when they are published.”

Sources said the attitude being taken by Mr Coveney and Mr McHugh is likely to be followed by other Fine Gael TDs.

“As the debate goes on there is a growing acceptance that the Eighth means the status quo remains and that hasn’t served us well,” a source said.

There are now essential three different approaches being within the party. The first is led by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris who back widespread reform.

Mr Coveney is now viewed as a middle-ground leader for people with conflicting views on the issue. He believes reform is necessary but not on the scale being proposed.

And finally there are a number TDs, including junior minister Patrick O’Donovan, who believe the Eighth Amendment should be retained.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News