Tuesday 24 April 2018

I have been truthful to myself – Mulherin

Pro-life TD hits back at criticism over vote that kept her job

STANDS BY HER DECISION: Ms Mulherin says she feels she can achieve more in Fine Gael than out
STANDS BY HER DECISION: Ms Mulherin says she feels she can achieve more in Fine Gael than out

DANIEL McCONNELL Political Correspondent

PRO-life government TD Michelle Mulherin last night insisted she was "clear and truthful to myself", despite voting in favour of the abortion bill.

The conservative politician – who is from Mayo – was an outspoken critic of the controversial legislation.

But when it came to the crunch, Ms Mulherin followed the party line so she would not lose the whip.

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Ms Mulherin said she could have voted against the bill.

But – in a thinly veiled criticism of her axed party colleague Lucinda Creighton – she insisted such a "grand gesture" would have been pointless.

"We all have to square things up with ourselves. I could have gone and done some grand gesture, but had I done that it wouldn't have changed a thing," she told the Sunday Independent.

Ms Mulherin admitted that some of her constituents will be disappointed in her.

But she insisted she acted pragmatically.

Ms Mulherin was speaking as she came under a wave of local and national criticism for supporting the legislation.

"I tried to argue my case. My amendments to the legislation were not taken and I have to accept that," she said.

Analysis pages 10, 20-23, 32

"The overall reaction from people is that 'you did your best', but whatever decision I took it was not going to be popular with some people."

She said she had put forward proposals and amendments to the legislation in order to make the suicide clause more "restrictive".

But she blamed pressure from the Labour Party in blocking her amendments.

"My proposals would have made the suicide provisions more restrictive, more watertight," she added.

She said that it was made abundantly clear to her that she would be booted out of the party if she voted against the legislation.

"I wasn't elected as an independent TD, I was elected as a Fine Gael representative. I feel I can achieve more by remaining in the party," she said.

"Political parties must be willing to allow dissenting voices," she said.

"Hand on my heart, I would not be in a better place to do my job if I was an independent. With almost 30 or so independents, the Dail already has too many," she added.

Ahead of the vote, Ms Mulherin had a four-hour meeting with Attorney General Maire Whelan, several meetings with Dr James Reilly and an hour-and-a-half long meeting with Mr Kenny last Tuesday in a bid to address her concerns.

"Since publication of Expert Group Report, I had been raising concerns and seeking clarification and bringing pressure to bear at the parliamentary party meetings," she said.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section