Martin brave in abortion stance
IT was interesting to hear Micheal Martin yesterday belatedly and finally come down off the fence to tell us he personally favours backing the Government's Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.
The Fianna Fail leader's comments show us that he is trying to honour his pledge not to play politics with the abortion issue. He also has good grounds for arguing that the draft legislation does not give anti-abortion campaigners cause for worry.
But Mr Martin's comments still leave him with some pretty hefty internal party problems. It is widely believed that the 36 TDs, senators and MEPs, who make up FF's much-depleted parliamentary party, are pretty evenly split on this most divisive of issues.
Some of the FF members are determined to find a way of being seen to vote against this piece of legislation at all costs. With a bare three dozen members, Mr Martin cannot really afford to lose any on this issue.
The prospect of the FF leadership being forced to concede a free vote on the legislation, which would dent Mr Martin's standing, cannot be ruled out. He is to be admired for stating his determination to continue working for a common and united party position. That is the way mainstream Irish politics works.
Mr Martin's comments will be welcome news to Taoiseach Enda Kenny who has to grapple with potential rebels inside Fine Gael. It increases the Taoiseach's prospects of steering this legislation through the Dail without a formalised vote.
It has been late in coming, but Mr Martin wins plaudits for some straight dealing here.