Wednesday 12 December 2018

Cabinet favours 'repeal and enable' referendum question

Mattie McGrath Photo: Caroline Quinn
Mattie McGrath Photo: Caroline Quinn

Shona Murray and Kevin Doyle

The Cabinet is set to approve the "repeal and enable" approach to the wording of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment at a special meeting on Monday.

The question to be put to the public will involve the deletion of the Eighth Amendment from the constitution - replacing it with a clause giving explicit responsibility to the Oireachtas to legislate on the matter.

Although the Oireachtas Committee on abortion recommended the question involve a simple repeal of the article, or "repeal simpliciter", the government believes 'repeal and enable' will reinforce the legislation.

Thus it will be less likely to be successfully challenged in the courts.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he will declare his position on the matter on Monday evening.

The Cabinet will also agree other detail including the recommendation allowing abortion up to 12 weeks regulated through a GP-service.

But Independent TD Mattie McGrath is requesting extra Dáil time to continue the debate on the Eighth Amendment proposals through next week.

Mr McGrath said it was "quite shocking" that not all TDs spoke on the matter and will ask the Business Committee to allocate more time.

The Tipperary TD said abortion is "a matter of life and death" and deserved deeper consideration by public representatives.

Almost 80 TDs gave statements in the 15 hours for which it was debated. There were 17 hours provided in the Dáil, although 15 hours were used over five sitting days in the past two weeks, according to information from the chief whip's office.

Mr McGrath has been accused of purposely disrupting the debate by calling a quorum on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights. He also refused to take his seat and spoke at length on the Companies Audit Bill which was scheduled before the Statements.

Meanwhile, Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran issued a statement saying the referendum proposals mean the Government would be left "entirely free to introduce whatever abortion regime it chooses, now or at any time in the future".

Irish Independent

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