Monday 24 September 2018

Differences of opinion are to be welcomed... and they don't have to lead to a political war

Allowing members of the same party to disagree on abortion is a sign of strength, not of weakness, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Eilis O'Hanlon

The internecine conflict in Fianna Fail over Micheal Martin's decision to back the removal of the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution is a glaring instance of why politicians are reluctant these days to stick their necks out on any issue.

There's always someone ready to lop off their heads for heresy when they do.

At least eight TDs even turned up last week for a meeting organised by Carlow-Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward to express their disapproval at Martin's change of heart on abortion, and others reportedly said they would have liked to attend but felt there might be pressure not to do so. Note: they felt there might be pressure, not that there was any. That's an important distinction, because, however clumsily he may have handled his recent announcement, the FF leader has been adamant that he will respect every TDs stance in the referendum campaign, even when it's at polar opposites to his own.

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