Friday 6 December 2019

Taoiseach challenges Creighton on proposal for abortion legislation

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has laid down a challenge to European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton over her proposed alternative legislation on abortion.

In a 'put up or shut up' ultimatum, Mr Kenny told his TDs and senators: "There will be one piece of legislation, anyone who has a problem with that can come and see me."

Sources said the comments – while not specifically naming Ms Creighton – were obviously directed at the junior minister, and went down well among the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

Ms Creighton has widely publicised her own alternative proposals for dealing with the issue, which would leave out the threat of suicide as grounds for a termination.

She is the highest-profile Fine Gael TD – although there are numerous others – to express reservations over the use of these grounds. But her public stance has raised eyebrows among allies of the Taoiseach, who has already committed to including the threat of suicide in planned legislation.

Last night's broadside from Mr Kenny is the latest incident in the uneasy relationship between him and the TD for Dublin South-East.

Sources said Mr Kenny's comments were well-received among TDs and senators, although Ms Creighton was not in the room to defend herself.

She is in Brussels launching European 'Year of the Citizen' and said she was not aware of any comments by Mr Kenny.

"There was no mistaking who he was talking about," one TD said. "It seemed to play well in the room."

Earlier this week, Ms Creighton denied there was a rift between her and Mr Kenny on abortion. "I don't think we're at odds, it's just important to take time to consider the option in wording," she told RTE's 'Morning Ireland'.

She had "grave concerns" about accepting the risk of suicide as grounds for abortion "because I think it's very, very difficult to identify a system that would allow for that while also ensuring we don't open the floodgates".

She said the public and "many of my Fine Gael colleagues" have deep concerns and the Government needed to ensure whatever legislation it introduces is "restrictive".

Mr Kenny held the Coalition line during a three-hour meeting with the Catholic Church hierarchy last week.

Senior bishops – led by Cardinal Sean Brady – said they were opposed to abortion, but the Government said this would not change its plans.

Discussions at last night's FG parliamentary party meeting also focused on the recent Oireachtas hearings on abortion, but this was to mostly praise how the proceedings were conducted.

Last night's challenge from Mr Kenny is the latest incident between him and Ms Creighton.

She backed Richard Bruton in the 2010 heave. Her comments during the tussle warned against "cute hoorism".

Irish Independent

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