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Ireland would vote no to abortion - FG researcher

Fine Gael last night distanced itself from one of its senior researchers who said the people of Ireland, if asked, would not vote to legalise abortion.

Jim Duffy, a senior analyst with Fine Gael, made comments in emails from his work account to a member of the public.

"Research does not indicate at the moment that public opinion, in the context of a referendum, would vote at the end of a campaign to change the constitution," he said in the mail seen by the Herald.

Mr Duffy was responding to questions about the coalition party's stance on pregnant victims of rape.

He was asked whether the "situation of forced pregnancy in situations of rape will continue for women in Ireland under Fine Gael?"

Mr Duffy said the "situation," would continue under any government.

"[It] could only be changed by the people in a constitutional amendment," he said. "And all the detailed research shows right now the electorate would not vote to change it."

He went on to say that referenda on social issues can prove very difficult.

"Amending the constitution on social issues is an extremely complex and difficult issue," Mr Duffy added.

"The lessons of history show that public opinion on social issues is very volatile and invariably sees a dramatic swing in favour of the status quo, as those opposing the change paint nightmare scenarios for possible changes."


The questions were put to Mr Duffy about the Government's policy on abortion by Aine Carroll, who also works in politics. Ms Carroll was asking Mr Duffy as a member of the public.

Mr Duffy, the journalist who derailed Brian Lenihan's presidential campaign in 1990, then made reference to the X case.

He also stated, in the email exchange, that "it is not possible to legislate for abortion in the case of rape because of the constitution".

However, when Fine Gael was asked about Mr Duffy's comments, a representative moved to distance the party from his statements.

"The email referred to does not reflect the Fine Gael position and is a statement of personal opinion," he said.