Wednesday 25 April 2018

Mystery over Donnelly's whereabouts

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

INDEPENDENT TDs were split two-to-one on the abortion legislation vote.

But mystery surrounded the whereabouts of high-profile TD Stephen Donnelly.

Mr Donnelly was notably missing from the important vote and colleagues didn't know where he was last night.

The Wicklow TD's phone was ringing out with an international dial tone, but there was no record available of any Oireachtas business abroad this week.

Mr Donnelly did not return calls.

Dail Technical Group whip Catherine Murphy said Mr Donnelly was away and flagged he wouldn't be here this week.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins was absent due to an illness in his family.

A party colleague said Mr Higgins had indicated clearly last week his intention to abstain on this vote anyway.

The Dublin West TD plans to co-sign a number of amendments seeking a widening of the legislation.

Independent TD Tom Fleming deliberately abstained from the vote as he wants a referendum on the issue.

"I believe that there is a degree of arrogance within the Oireachtas both historically and currently whereby this House feels it has a monopoly on consideration and consequently has been reluctant to put major issues to the electorate by way of referendum," he said.

Of the TDs on the Independent benches, 14 voted for the legislation and seven against.

A number of the Independents joined with Fianna Fail TDs and Labour Party rebels in originally calling for the vote.

Irish Independent

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