'My daughter was stillborn seven weeks from birth' - minister
A minister has revealed his wife lost their child with just seven weeks of the pregnancy remaining.
Junior Minister Ciarán Cannon says the experience is now influencing how he will vote in the upcoming abortion referendum.
The Fine Gael TD says he should have been celebrating his daughter's 16th birthday with his wife Niamh yesterday.
But their child was stillborn on March 23, 2002.
"With just seven weeks left in my wife's pregnancy, our little girl passed away and was denied her right to live her life, a life that I believe would have been filled with love, laughter and potential," he said.
Writing in today's Irish Independent, Mr Cannon says he is in favour of holding a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, but clearly indicates he will vote in favour of retention.
"When I walk into my local polling station to vote in the referendum how can I forget the lost potential of my daughter? In removing the right of thousands of Irish children every year to reach their own potential, to live long and fulfilling lives, I would be dishonouring her memory, and I just can't do that. There must be a better way, one that respects the rights of all," he said.
Legislation was passed in the Dáil this week to allow the referendum to be held at the end of May.
However, Mr Cannon is one of a number of TDs who supports the holding of a referendum, but are not in favour of repeal or a replacement regime allowing abortion up to 12 weeks.
"To end the life of a human being during pregnancy on the basis that it has not yet achieved a specified level of development is to ignore that a human being at that stage of human development is functioning just as it is biologically programmed to function," he writes.