Monday 20 November 2017

Change of mind couldn't alter inevitable result

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

IN little over a week, the voting intentions of a dozen TDs on the abortion legislation changed, though the bill still passed through the Dail with an overwhelming majority.

Fine Gael's Lucinda Creighton grabbed most of the headlines, but there were other significant movements during the nine-day gap between the two major votes on the legislation.

The final vote in the Dail on the abortion legislation was taken at 12.25am on Friday.

The Report and Final Stage vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, 2013 was passed by 127 votes to 31.

The result saw a number of changes from the vote last week on the Second Stage of the legislation, which was passed by 138 to 24.

Fine Gael's Lucinda Creighton was the most high-profile rebel on the government benches.

In the end, she was the only new defector to join the four Fine Gael TDs – Brian Walsh, Peter Mathews, Terence Flanagan and Billy Timmins – who voted against the legislation the previous week.

The switches from the Yes to the No side included a group of left-wing opposition TDs – Joe Higgins, Clare Daly, Joan Collins, Richard Boyd Barrett, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and Mick Wallace.

Mr Higgins was absent from last week's vote due to the death of his mother, but had signalled his intention to vote Yes at that stage. The group of six switched their allegiance as they felt the legislation did not go far enough.

Fianna Fail TD Michael Moynihan also swapped sides, meaning 14 of Micheal Martin's TDs voted against the legislation versus only five in favour.

And there were three abstentions – Independent Tom Fleming and Independent Labour's Tommy Broughan and Roisin Shortall.

Ms Shortall had signalled she was unable to support the legislation because of the lack of term limits.

She called for a referendum on the abortion issue, specifically the term limits.

Absent from the vote on Thursday night and Friday morning were Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who travelled to the United States to lobby on immigration reform in Washington DC.

Also absent was Fine Gael's Nicky McFadden and Independents Noel Grealish and Maureen O'Sullivan.

Irish Independent

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