Monday 16 December 2019

'Every household will have different view on abortion'

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Cabinet ministers will today be asked to give the green light for the preparation of legislation allowing abortion up to 12 weeks.

A majority of ministers are expected to back this approach - but significantly a question marks remains over the stance of Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

In a clear sign of the divide within Fine Gael, Junior Minister Patrick O'Donovan told reporters: "Every household in the country is going to have different views on this. I have a different view to Minister Donohoe on this."

Health Minister Simon Harris will today tell his colleagues that in order for a referendum to be held on May 25 or June 1 he must begin work on potential new laws immediately.

In the absence of a full Cabinet decision, which won't be made until after the Dáil has debated the issue, he wants to focus his work on the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment. It proposed repealing the amendment, which gives equal status to a woman and her unborn child, and replacing it with legislation allowing unrestricted terminations up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

However, Mr Coveney, who is seen as being on the conservative side of Fine Gael, will miss today's meeting as he is currently on a tour of Israel and Palestine. He recently told the Irish Independent: "Decisions that I make on this will be ones that allow me to sleep at night and not ones that I will judge on the basis of whether they're popular or not."

Sources said Mr Coveney discussed the committee's report with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during the holidays and will be at a special meeting of Fine Gael TDs and senators on Monday.

Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring and Independent Minister Denis Naughten are also believed to have strong reservations about allowing abortion on demand.

However, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe revealed yesterday that he is now supporting the recommendations of the committee and said that they "should be put to the people".

Irish Independent

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