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Martin plans to stay silent on abortion stance

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Micheal Martin: accused of breaking commitment

Micheal Martin: accused of breaking commitment

Micheal Martin: accused of breaking commitment

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin is planning to say nothing at all publicly about the abortion legislation for at least another week.

Mr Martin is being accused by pro-life groups of breaking his commitment to "an Ireland without abortion".

A fortnight after the draft of the abortion bill was published, the leader of the opposition has yet to express an opinion publicly on the legislation.

Within Fianna Fail, he has told TDs he wants to support the legislation, but he has so far been unable to bring the party with him as a significant number are staunchly against it.

Mr Martin is the crucial figure if the abortion legislation is to be passed without a divisive vote in the Dail. The party is divided with a 50:50 split on supporting or opposing it.

A meeting of his TDs and senators, just after the draft legislation, ended without any agreement on taking a position.

The decision was postponed until after the Oireachtas Health Committee considers the legislation in the coming week, when the parliamentary party will meet again.

Mr Martin continues to be unavailable for comment on the legislation.

"I don't expect we will be doing anything ahead of the parliamentary party meeting. We are not planning anything on this issue," his spokesman said.

"Micheal is not planning on making public comment. We have no plan for Micheal to be discussing this until the parliamentary party has an opportunity to discuss it," he said.

Meanwhile, a pro-life group is circulating a letter from Mr Martin from before the general election in which he reiterated his opposition to abortion.

Mr Martin was responding to a letter from a constituent in Cork querying the party's stance on abortion and whether pressure from the EU would force the country to amend its abortion laws.

"Fianna Fail's position on abortion remains unchanged," he wrote.

He went on to outline the position on the protections Ireland has secured against abortion on an EU level over the previous two decades.

Commitment

"I hope this response outlines for you our commitment to an Ireland without abortion," he concluded.

Ireland Stand Up, a pro-life group, said the letter shows Mr Martin was trying to "curry favour" with that group of anti-abortion voters.

"This is an issue where you are either one way or another," a spokesperson said.

The letter was sent to an elderly person, who returned home after living in England and was checking the party positions on abortion.

Irish Independent