Saturday 17 March 2018

Fatal foetal abnormality bill 'raises false expectations for people' - Minister claims

Minister Simon Coveney Picture: Arthur Carron
Minister Simon Coveney Picture: Arthur Carron
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has hit out at the Mick Wallace’s private members’ bill proposing access to abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities, insisting it was “raising false expectations for people”.

Mr Coveney said he acknowledged that many people, including lots within Fine Gael, felt very strongly on the issue adding: “I think like lots of families most political parties have deep divisions on this issue.”

Minister Coveney stressed there would be no free vote on the matter within Fine Gael, but said any Government TD voting against the Government would not break up the current coalition.

“We’d like the Government to stick together on this vote so we can move to a process whereby we can address this issue properly over time but we also recognise that there will be individuals who will have very strong views and who for whatever reason may chose to vote one way or the other.

“It’s not going to break up the Government, I think most people understand that this is an issue that people have very strong personal feelings on. We’ve had a very good and cordial and detailed conversation within Cabinet on this issue and I think everybody understands where everybody else is coming from,” he said.

However, he stressed that the view of Government was that the legislation being proposed by Mick Wallace was unconstitutional and would raise false expectations for people. 

“Our view in Government and our view in Fine Gael is that the legislation that is being proposed here is unconstitutional and therefore even if it’s passed will not change anything for anybody and so it’s raising false expectations for people.

“Lots of people who have been affected by this issue are watching this debate and perhaps hoping that the legislation gets passed in the hope that it will change something. Our view is that because it’s not constitutional as a piece of legislation it can’t do that,” he said.

Speaking in Galway at the launch of Clúid Housing’s 15 affordable homes, he said Fine Gael and Government were committed to a process to bring about change through the Citizen’s Assembly, saying it would probably result in a referendum.

“We want recommendations quite quickly coming from that Citizen’s Assembly and then we want the Dail to actually vote on that in terms of what we need to do to address those issues and that’s probably going to result in a referendum but we don’t know yet. Let’s wait and see what the recommendations are,” he added.

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