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Thursday 22 February 2018

TDs seeking free abortion vote find an ally in Shatter

Fiach Kelly

FINE Gael TDs campaigning for a free vote on abortion and other issues have found two unlikely champions – Enda Kenny and Alan Shatter.

Wicklow's Billy Timmins said TDs should be given a free vote on some issues, and Galway West TD Brian Walsh is pushing for a free vote on abortion.

Both cited a Dail debate on hare coursing in 1993 in which Justice Minister Alan Shatter – then an opposition TD – called for a free vote, but it was not granted.

Mr Shatter then voted against his party – with a whip imposed by Mr Kenny – but did not lose the party whip.

In contrast, the Fine Gael leadership is ruling out a free vote on current issues.

At the time, Mr Shatter said: "Why should grown men and women be forced to behave in such an undignified and demeaning way? Why should they be forced on an issue such as this to let people down and add to the public cynicism of politicians?"

Mr Walsh emailed party colleagues saying that in the absence of a free vote on abortion, TDs should not be penalised with expulsion from the parliamentary party – in effect, similar to the treatment granted to Mr Shatter in 1993.

Irish Independent

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