Second stage of Abortion Referendum bill passed by large majority in the Dáil

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Wayne O'Connor

THE second stage of a Bill to allow for the staging of an Abortion Referendum has been passed by a large majority of the Dáil today.

The Bill will now move to committee stage to be discussed and where the Government hope it will be fast-tracked to facilitate further debate tonight.

TDs voted to approve the Bill by 110 to 32.

Just two Fine Gael TDs, Sean Barret and Peter Fitzpatrick, voted against the Bill and a majority of Fianna Fáil TDs did note vote in favour.

Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Féin TD Carol Nolan was the only one of its TDs to vote against party lines on the issue. Meath TD Peadar Tóibín was not present for the vote but has previously made it clear he opposes repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Ms Nolan is now likely to face disciplinary action.

"The party whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh has communicated with Teachta Nolan that he wishes to meet,” said a Sinn Féin spokesperson.

“After that meeting, the whip will refer to the party chairperson Declan Kearney. Teachta Tóibín had communicated to the whip in advance that he had a family matter today and would not be available for the vote."

Earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil there would not be a second referendum on the issue in the lifetime of this Government.

A May vote has been targeted by Government who hopes to maximise the number of people who can participate before students go away for the summer holidays.

Mr Varadkar today told the Dáil: “The Government will respect the result of the referendum so if the result is passed I hope people respect that. If the referendum is defeated then the Government will respect it and not bring forward another proposal.”