Strong Opposition in FF and FG to Pro-Abortion Stance
Ten Fianna Fáil TDs have already said they will not support repeal of the 8th Amendment and one deputy has hit out at party colleagues on the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment who supported the committee’s pro-abortion agenda. Meanwhile, it is reported that the Fine Gael parliamentary party is deeply divided over the issue as the Taoiseach ponders his response to the committee’s report.
Waterford deputy Mary Butler criticised Fianna Fáil Committee members Billy Kelleher, Lisa Chambers and Ned O'Sullivan. She said she was unhappy with their joint submission to make abortion available for up to 12 weeks without restriction. Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Deputy Butler said, “I do not and will not support the joint proposal submitted by Deputy Kelleher, Deputy Lisa Chambers and Senator O'Sullivan and agreed by the committee on a 14/6 vote, and I believe it does not reflect the majority of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.”
At least eight government ministers have indicated support for the repeal of article 40.3.3 and providing for abortion at up to 12 weeks without restriction. But Tánaiste Simon Coveney, and education minister Richard Bruton declined to comment until they consider the report. Ministers of state, Catherine Byrne and Jim Daly, also said they wanted time to study the report. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week said he will read the report over Christmas before expressing his own views.
A Fine Gael TD who opposes holding a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment has said there is a “big split” in the party over abortion. Peter Fitzpatrick, one of the committee members who produced a dissenting minority report also said he is “very disappointed” in Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for announcing the Government’s intention to hold a referendum on abortion before the Oireachtas Committee finished its work.
Mr Fitzpatrick said that, “talking to a lot of backbenchers, I think there’s a big split in Fine Gael. I’m not going to say it’s 50:50 but, in fairness, I think it’s very positive towards keeping the Eighth Amendment.”
Asked about his comments that he was “disappointed” in Mr Varadkar, he said he wouldn’t resign from Fine Gael over the matter as the party's members have a free vote on abortion.
Irish Independent. December 21. Irish Independent. December 17.