Friday 13 December 2019

Fresh rift developing within Government over abortion issue

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

A fresh rift is developing within Government over the issue of abortion, has learned.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was forced to adjourn today's Cabinet meetings after a number of Independent ministers pressed for a free vote on a bill being tabled by Mick Wallace.

The bill proposes that women should be allowed to have an abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, where both a perinatologist and obstetrician deem the pregnancy to be non-viable.

But at today's meeting, senior Fine Gael ministers including Mr Kenny are believed to have said that the bill has been deemed unconstitutional by Attorney General Maire Whelan.

However, ministers Shane Ross and Finian McGrath of the Independent Alliance said they believed they should be able to vote by their conscience.

A free vote is of particular desire to junior minister John Halligan, who is a member of the alliance.

Two separate Cabinet sources confirmed the meeting was adjourned without agreement.

The vote is due to take place next week.

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