Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Leo Varadkar still won't say how he'll campaign in an abortion referendum

Leo Varadkar still won't say how he'll campaign in an abortion referendum

"As far as my party is concerned, the Fine Gael party, I want us always to be a warm house and a big tent for people with a diversity of views on this issue whether pro-life, pro-choice or in that very big grey area in between".

Leo Varadkar says many people may feel the recommendation of the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment, whose membership includes Kildare North TDs Catherine Murphy & Bernard Durkan, goes further than they'd like. The Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment last month recommended deleting the controversial amendment and not replacing it with a new reference to abortion in the constitution....

However, Mr Coveney, who is seen as being on the conservative side of Fine Gael, will miss today's meeting as he is now on a tour of Israel and Palestine.

Independent TD and Minister of State Finian McGrath said attention must be paid to the disability element to the debate, while Minister for Transport Shane Ross suggested no legislation on abortion should proposed until after a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment is passed. "But I believe that we must have this debate carried out in atmosphere of calm, an atmosphere of acknowledging that it is going to be very, very hard to achieve consensus, that there will be people with differing views, differing opinions".

We didn't come to any final decisions today, we want there to be more consultation. The Dáil and Seanad will be discussing the issue next week.

While Varadkar has said that his Cabinet would take a collective decision on whether to hold a referendum, he has said that ministers would be able to "dissent" from that.

In a clear sign of the divide within Fine Gael, Junior Minister Patrick O'Donovan told reporters: "Every household in the country is going to have different views on this".

"It is I know very much a private and personal matter and there is a diversity of views on this question in the Cabinet, in the Oireachtas, in every political party and I think in nearly every family and household", Varadkar added.

"I don't believe that this is an issue that should be in our constitution", he said.

Ministers were told that a referendum could be held in late May or early June.

Minister for Health Simon Harris, during a lengthy briefing at Wednesday's meeting, told his Cabinet colleagues that he expected to be in a position within three or four weeks to seek their formal agreement to hold a pre-summer referendum. So my party, the Fine Gael party, will discuss this at our special parliamentary party meeting next week.

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