Friday 26 April 2019

The Floating Voter: Naughten controversy should not be allowed derail abortion referendum, says PBP's Brid Smith

Denis Naughten making his statement to the Dail (Oireachtas TV)
Denis Naughten making his statement to the Dail (Oireachtas TV)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

It would be “criminal” to allow the controversy engulfing Communications Minister derail the abortion referendum, a People Before Profit TD has said.

Bríd Smith told this week’s ‘Floating Voter’ podcast that while Denis Naughten should be sanction for his interactions with a lobbyist, it should not put the Government at risk.

She describes the various elements of the story surrounding Independent News & Media (INM) in recent weeks as a “tangled web”.

“It’s a really complicated tangled web – but I know the average person out there hasn’t a clue. They are completely lost about what’s going on,” she said.

The podcast, hosted by INM’s Group Political Editor Kevin, also hears the views of political correspondent Philip Ryan and Irish Independent Legal Affairs Editor Shane Phelan.

Referring to phone contacts between Mr Naughten and a lobbyist working for INM in November 2016, Ms Smith says: “Irish people need to be aware that this type of lobbying goes on all the time. It is really, really intense.”

She noted that some senators had more than 700 representations in relation recent changes to the alcohol laws.

Asked whether she believes Mr Naughten should resign, the Dublin South Central TD replies: “I think that to collapse the Government over this would be criminal before the referendum. We need to have that referendum. We’ve waited so long to get it. It’s really a very, very crucial moment for Irish politics.”

But she adds that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar should hold the minister to account.

The panel also discuss the Eighth Amendment campaign to date and whether Housing Minister Eoghan Muprhy is too elitist to fix the housing crisis.

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