Tuesday 20 February 2018

Varadkar undecided on abortion campaign

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Reuters
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Reuters

Kevin Doyle and Shona Murray

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will not decide whether to campaign in next year's abortion referendum until the text of the proposed constitutional change is agreed.

Cabinet has formally agreed a timeline for seven referendums over the coming two years - meaning the prospect of an early general election looks even less likely.

Voters will already be repeatedly going to the polls between next summer and June 2019, to decide on a series of potential changes to the constitution.

Under the plans, the divisive referendum on the Eighth Amendment is set to be held in May or June next year. The standalone vote is set to be held in May or June 2018 provided that all party committee on the Eighth Amendment can conclude its work in time.

Mr Varadkar has previously said Ireland's abortion laws are too restrictive but also suggested he does not believe the very liberal regime proposed by the Citizens' Assembly would be approved by voters.

His spokesperson was yesterday unable to say whether the Taoiseach will actively campaign in the referendum. He said Mr Varadkar will assess each of the seven proposed referendums between May 2018 and October 2019 on a "case by case basis".

The lack of clarity raises the possibility that Mr Varadkar's government could propose changes to the constitution which he would not then publicly back.

The referendum on the Eighth Amendment will be followed by referendums on Blasphemy and the "Woman's life within the home", directly elected mayors, divorce, giving voting rights at presidential elections to members of the diaspora and lowering the voting age to 16.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Also in this section