TAOISEACH Enda Kenny got support from politicians across all parties when he declared in the Dail he was "a Taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic, but not a Catholic Taoiseach".
The support was in marked contrast to the deluge of up to 50 abusive calls a day and hundreds of graphic images of dead babies being directed at him by his Mayo constituents.
Mr Kenny's remarks to the Dail were in response to criticism from the Catholic bishops about his abortion Bill.
His declaration drew applause from Government backbenchers, but also from Sinn Fein TDs who support the abortion legislation.
He said: "A Taoiseach for all of the people, that's my job. I am proud to lead the Government in governing for all our people, irrespective of the sector of society that they come from."
Once again, Mr Kenny
took his inspiration from an American president.
His comment echoed President John F Kennedy's famous 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association.
The American presidential hopeful (inset), as he was at the time, declared: "I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic."
The Cabinet met yesterday to finalise the Bill, which was due to be published last night.
Mr Kenny said: "I'm now being branded as a murderer, that I'm going to have on my soul the death of 20 million babies."
He stressed again that there would be no free vote for members of the Government parties, that the abortion legislation would provide legal clarity and was about "saving lives".