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Sunday 18 February 2018

Mulherin didn't want to get 'boot' from party

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

ONE of the Fine Gael abortion waverers who eventually decided to back the contentious bill said she didn't want to get "booted out" of the party.

Mayo deputy Michelle Mulherin was seen as the most likely TD to join Lucinda Creighton in voting against the Government and losing the Fine Gael whip.

However, in a short speech which illustrated the pressure Fine Gael TDs were coming under from the party leadership, Ms Mulherin said she was not going to allow herself to get "booted out of the party".

"I met with Minister James Reilly for an hour last night, and with the Taoiseach for nearly an hour-and-a-half," Ms Mulherin said.

"I am now faced with either supporting the bill or being booted out of the party, my party, and I am not going to allow myself to be booted out so I am supporting this legislation."

Mr Kenny said any rebels would not be allowed to run for Fine Gael at the next election, and another waverer who eventually backed the bill, Carlow-Kilkenny's John Paul Phelan, also criticised the leadership's approach.

Mr Kenny and Dr Reilly met the wavering TDs in recent days, although Ms Creighton met Dr Reilly only, and not the Taoiseach.

Another Mayo TD whose support for the bill was in doubt, John O'Mahony, also decided to back the bill after saying he was "satisfied" the abortion bill will create "a rigorous and restrictive regulation of existing legal rights and that that the safeguards therein are adequate to prevent abuse of its provision".

Mr O'Mahony also said the Attorney General told him the suicide clause – which he had the biggest problem with – "only arises because the connected constitutional right already exists, as has been confirmed by the Supreme Court".

He also said the bill "will provide clarity to doctors about when and how they can intervene in situations where there is a real and substantial risk to a woman's life during pregnancy, whether arising from suicide or otherwise".

Mr Phelan backed the bill early this morning and said concerns he had raised with Dr Reilly had been taken on board.

He said the bill offered a "realistic solution" and made a reference to his friend, Ms Creighton, although he did not name her, by expressing regret that some people would be expelled from the party "for expressing their views".

Irish Independent

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