Tuesday 20 March 2018

Reilly misleading public on FG election pledge – Lucinda

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE atmosphere in Fine Gael has become increasingly bitter as the final abortion vote looms.

European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton accused Health Minister James Reilly, right, of misleading people, while other ministers accused Ms Creighton of dragging out her decision on the issue in order to damage Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Ministers have been ringing wavering backbenchers in the past few days to pressure them into voting with the Coalition, but a source said most backbench TDs had made up their minds.

One senior Fine Gael source predicted Ms Creighton will be the only other TD, in addition to four who rebelled last week, to lose the whip when the final vote is taken on Wednesday.

"I reckon it will just be Lucinda on Wednesday," the source said. "I think she'd have gone last week but didn't want to be lumped in with the other four. This way she maximises publicity for herself and the damage to the leader."

And, as Dr Reilly was being interviewed on RTE Radio's 'This Week' yesterday, Ms Creighton posted a curt tweet asking her party's deputy leader not to "make up" the Fine Gael pre-election abortion position.

Dr Reilly was defending the Fine Gael position, and said it was not breaking a pre-election promise not to legislate for abortion. An election letter from Phil Hogan, the party's director of elections in 2011, said: "Fine Gael is opposed to the legalisation of abortion."

The Programme for Government said the Coalition would establish an expert group to examine how to deal with the European Court of Human Rights ruling on the X Case.

Dr Reilly insisted Fine Gael was not breaking its promises.

"In the Programme for Government we agreed we would address this issue and in a letter to our membership, which has been oft quoted, there were three things stated in it before the election, three things promised to them," Dr Reillly said.

"One, that we would not legalise abortion, which we're not. Two, that we would address the ABC case in Europe which we are, and three, that we would provide all treatment women need in pregnancy which is our full intent ...

"I reject that we have broken any promise in terms of this issue."

But, as Dr Reilly's interview was being broadcast, Ms Creighton tweeted: "Sorry Dr Reilly. Please do not mislead people.

"Our manifesto and programme for govt DID NOT commit FG TDs to this. Read it. Don't make it up."

When asked about people losing the whip and not being able to run for Fine Gael in future, Mr Kenny said: "We don't comment about matters of Fine Gael other than that people understand what the rules are and implement the rules."

Meanwhile, a group of psychiatrists have backed amendments to the abortion bill tabled by Ms Creighton.

The psychiatrists say Ms Creighton's request to remove suicide as grounds for an abortion is the right approach and provides clarification for their profession.

Dr Bernadette McCabe, Dr Amir Niazi and Dr Eleanor Corcoran, all consultant psychiatrists, held a press conference to support Ms Creighton's stance.

Irish Independent

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