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Saturday 25 November 2017

Pressure on Kenny over abortion 'road map'

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FINE Gael TDs and senators are warning Taoiseach Enda Kenny that this week's abortion announcement must only be a "road map" – and not go into specifics about how the Government will deal with the contentious issue.

The Government will announce its broad approach after its weekly cabinet meeting tomorrow. After considering the options presented to it by an expert group on abortion, ministers are expected to choose legislation plus regulation.

The main concern Fine Gael TDs have is over the scope of the legislation to be drafted.

A group of between 15 and 20 TDs and senators are worried about allowing the threat of suicide as grounds for abortion.

European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton is one of those, and she told RTE's 'The Week in Politics' last night: "I don't think it's any secret I have concerns about the whole question of suicide and how that can be defined."

Some TDs are holding Mr Kenny to a commitment they say he made at a parliamentary party meeting last month, when he said the Government would only announce the broad approach it wanted to take before Christmas.

Some in Fine Gael felt a pre-Christmas decision was being made to appease Labour.

The Government's proposals are expected to include the threat of suicide as grounds for abortion, but it is unclear what level of detail regarding suicide will be announced this week.

Fine Gael TDs insist Mr Kenny said only the broad outline of the Government's approach will be announced, with specifics and details to be decided in the coming months.


They want the specifics of legislation and regulation to be debated in the Dail, Seanad and by the Oireachtas Health Committee.

Fine Gael senator Paul Bradford said he wants to see plenty of opportunity for debate, and said the Government must only indicate a "road map".

He said he had no problem with legislation, regulations or legal clarity which ensured "best medical practice is protected by law". However, he added that he was worried the threat of suicide as grounds for abortion could "open the door to wide access, as in Britain".

The Oireachtas Health Committee will meet in a private session this Thursday to decide how it will approach its abortion debates.

Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin said she would be concerned about allowing for abortion "on demand".

"That would be my litmus test. I think there is a lot more discussion to be had on this subject. If it is going to be too specific, that could hinder that debate."

Her constituency colleague, John O'Mahony, previously said his vote couldn't be taken for granted on the issue.

"I have very strong convictions on this along with a number of others. There will be a broad outline and the debate will go on after that."

Irish Independent

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