Friday 14 December 2018

Varadkar says further legal advice is needed on the wording of the Eighth Amendment referendum

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Further legal advice is needed on the wording of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment but May 25 remains the target date for voting, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar denied the Government were stalling the introduction of legislation to allow for the referendum because they wanted its arrival in the Dáil to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Health Minister Simon Harris has previously indicated he hopes the referendum date proper will begin on March 6.

The wording was discussed at today’s Cabinet meeting with ministers agreeing the question will ask voters if they wish to repeal the Eighth and insert a line into the constitution stating that “provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies."

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil: “The intention is to publish the Bill in the first week of March but we need to get some further legal advice on the precise wording. We are confident it is okay, but we need to get some further advice on it and the place in the Constitution where it should rest. We anticipate having the legislation ready in the first week of March.”

Asked by Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger if this date was being set “for publicity or kudos”, but the Taoiseach denied this.

“I can understand where the theory comes from on the link to International Women's Day. That is not the reason,” he said, indicating a case before the courts is part of the reason for the delay.

Mr Varadkar also told the Dáil that contrary to some reports, the Government is on target to hold the referendum before the end of May.

“We are on schedule in respect of the timeline we have set out,” he said.

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