Monday 26 August 2019

Now Burton takes credit for Kenny's poll U-turn

Tánaiste Joan Burton says Labour will offer referendum
Tánaiste Joan Burton says Labour will offer referendum

Lise Hand and Niall O'Connor

Tánaiste Joan Burton has claimed that the Labour Party is responsible for Taoiseach Enda Kenny's dramatic decision to pave the way for an abortion referendum.

Ms Burton said Labour is the only party that can deliver on both economic and social issues and that events of recent days show Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have "slowly come round to our agenda".

Speaking at a Labour event last night, Ms Burton pledged that the party will deliver a referendum in the next term of Government.

"Yet again this week, we've seen other parties begin to slowly come round to our agenda. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, in their own ways, have effectively acknowledged the growing momentum for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment in the next Government term," Ms Burton said.

"Labour has, yet again, led from the front on this issue, and we'll lead from the front in delivering a referendum in our second term," she added.

Her remarks came as Taoiseach Enda Kenny denied that there is any rift between him and his party's deputy leader James Reilly over the issue of holding an abortion referendum.

Despite giving the Children's Minister a serious dressing down this week, Mr Kenny says the pair are on the same page.

"There's no difficulty between myself and the deputy leader of the Fine Gael party. Deputy Reilly is perfectly entitled to his personal views," Mr Kenny told reporters in London.

"My issue was that it would be impossible to have an early referendum on an issue that is as complex as this, without people fully understanding what is involved," he said.

Mr Kenny also revealed that if returned to power, a Citizens Convention would be convened before the end of next year.

The Taoiseach's dramatic decision to allow his party members a vote came on Wednesday night at Fine Gael's parliamentary party meeting.

Dr Reilly had heaped pressure on the Taoiseach by publicly demanding an early referendum be held during the next Dáil to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

However, Mr Kenny said that it was always the party's intention to include dealing with this contentious issue in its manifesto for the General Election next year.

"This matter was always going to be a part of the manifesto we'll prepare for our own party," he said.

Mr Kenny would not be drawn on an Irish Independent report that two of his most loyal Cabinet colleagues, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, had 'bounced' him into his decision.

"It's an issue which requires a very sensitive, very respectful, comprehensive discussion. I respect the right of every person to have their view on this," he told reporters.

Irish Independent

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