Taoiseach appoints minister to coordinate Fine Gael's 'Yes' campaign in abortion referendum
Minister Josepha Madigan has been appointed to coordinate Fine Gael efforts to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
The party is divided on abortion with some junior ministers, TDs and Senators against changing the law but Fine Gael is allowing its members a free vote on the issue.
Ms Madigan, the culture minister, is to coordinate the campaign by Fine Gael members who support repeal and the introduction of a more liberal abortion regime in Ireland.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and several senior ministers support a 'Yes' vote in the upcoming abortion referendum.
The opposing Save the 8th campaign congratulated Ms Madigan on the role and said she will have a "challenging job".
It claimed she will have to "sell UK-style abortion on demand to a country that has never given any indication that it would support such a proposal".
Mr Varadkar made the announcement that Ms Madigan will coordinate the Fine Gael 'Yes' campaign this evening.
He said she will work with health minister Simon Harris, other Fine Gael representatives, and the Together For Yes umbrella group to advocate for a 'Yes' vote.
Mr Varadkar said he looked forward to working closely with her and "outlining why I believe now is the time for change".
Ms Madigan said she is "honoured" to take up the role and that to play her part in "bringing about much-needed change for Irish women."
She said at least nine Irish women travel to avail of abortion services abroad every day and others buy abortion pills online and use them without medical supervision.
She added: "We can no longer continue to ignore these facts."
Ms Madigan said in her view it's a women's healthcare issue and the Eighth Amendment hasn't prevented abortion in Ireland.
"We have abortion here, it is just unsafe, unregulated and unlawful," she said.
She also said it's "inhumane" to expect women who have been raped or receive a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality to travel abroad to avail of abortion services.
Mr Varadkar said that the referendum on May 25 will see the Irish people have the chance to make a positive change to the Constitution, "to trust women and trust doctors".
He said: "If the people vote Yes, a safe, regulated, doctor-led system for the termination of pregnancy will be introduced here.
"There will be restrictions set out in law and we will be guided by best medical practice."
Mr Varadkar added:
“If we don’t remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution, nothing can change for Irish women."
"Only by securing a Yes vote can we provide women with the care they need here in Ireland, without fear of breaking the law," he added.