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Pro-life minister has no plans to resign

Fine Gael European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton has revealed that she has no immediate plans to resign on the government's proposed abortion legislation – saying that "90 per cent of the bill is fine".

But she also warned that she still had "difficulties on the issue of suicide", given that "the clear view of the vast majority of psychiatrists in the country that abortion is not an appropriate treatment where a woman is suicidal".

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Ms Creighton said that one of her political roles was to "defend a culture of life from as strong a political position as I can".

But she did warn that "the Aodhan O Riordains of this world are not going to go away you know", which signals future inter-party strife for the Coalition.

"My view is that there is a proposal, there is a process to be gone through, there is a long way to go and I intend to engage fully in the process."

And in an indication of the depth of the division in the Coalition, Ms Creighton, referring to the taped conversation of Mr O Riordain, said: "I found it unnerving, the manner in which he appeared to celebrate the fact that their opponents were dying off. The death of political opponents is an extraordinary thing to celebrate."

The Minister, however, also made it clear that she "completely supports" guidelines for the medical profession and for women.

"I am not a purist on this issue, people should not be criminalised or prosecuted for doing what they must do to save the lives of women. We have to give certainty to women, where they will know their rights" she said, adding: "the last thing that is needed is some Tribunal of Witch-finder Generals checking to see if doctors are conforming to the law."

Ms Creighton expressed strong support for a sunset clause or a formal mandatory review, noting that "the consequences of this legislation are long lasting".

But in an indication of her feelings on the legislation, she said that "life doesn't begin or end with holding on to political office. I love my job, I really do – but I'm not in politics to merely climb the greasy pole."

Ms Creighton also noted of a Taoiseach – with whom she has had an occasionally tempestuous relationship – that "Enda has been really strong; he has displayed a real empathy for people's concerns. He has listened and recognised it is an emotive subject'.'

She said that is being "eviscerated" by female journalists "because my views are not ones they find acceptable for a female member of the Oireachtas''.

The Minister, who is seen as being to the right of the party on economic issues, also backed the intervention by the President Michael D Higgins in the austerity debate. "We have to respect people with intellect. You only learn by listening''.

In a separate homily, Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick said that Irish society is faced with a serious choice.

"For the sake of the common good, Catholics need to propose their view on this topic.

"We do so not to impose some obscure teaching of our own but rather to respectfully offer what we consider a reasoned position echoed by many with other religious or indeed non-religious convictions," he said.

Irish Independent