Wednesday 17 January 2018

Labour and FG divided over abortion issue

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

ENDA Kenny and Eamon Gilmore differed again yesterday on how to deal with the abortion issue and on reform of the political system.

The Fine Gael leader has promised firmly to hold a referendum to scrap the Seanad, reduce the number of TDs and bring in a partial list system within a year of getting into power.

The Labour Party leader agrees on scrapping the Seanad via a referendum but wants to leave the reform of the electoral system to a thinktank examining the Constitution.

This Constitutional Convention would have to come up with a new constitution within a year.


Mr Gilmore said the new plan would be put to a referendum "as soon as possible" and the changes made within the lifetime of the next government.

Mr Kenny again said he believed the response to the recent judgement of the European Court of Human Rights on Ireland's abortion laws should be debated by an Oireachtas committee to decide what to do.

He gave no commitment to either legislate or hold a referendum on the matter.

"For the next Oireachtas to deal with this, they have got to (be) able to deal with the range and scale and perspectives," he said. "This will not become a diversionary issue for the General Election and will be an issue for the next Oireachtas."

Mr Gilmore stuck to his party's view the abortion issue should be dealt with by legislation.

"It is our view and it has been our view for quite some time that the Dail should legislate," he said.

Labour is pledging to introduce 140 separate proposals on reforming the Government, politics and the public service.

The Constitutional Commission would comprise of 90 members: 30 TDs and Senators, 30 from interest groups and 30 members of the public selected at random, similar to jury duty.

Mr Gilmore pledged to reform the Dail to make it easier for any TD to introduce a new law and have it accepted, rather than just the legislation coming from the Government parties. He said the Dail was operated under "archaic methodologies".

"The rules under which the Dail works are exactly the same as in the 1920s," he said.

Irish Independent

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