Youth Defence and the Life Institute have welcomed statements by a large group of Fine Gael TDs and Senators who have spoken out strongly against abortion. The statements come as our massive Keep Your Pro-life Promise campaign has raised the number of phone calls received by Fine Gael TDs on the abortion issue to an unprecedented level.
The Irish Times reports that some 15 TDs said they would oppose legislation that would pave the way for abortion and insisted the findings of the expert group on abortion be discussed with them before it is brought to Cabinet. In a signal of a potential backbench mutiny on a flashpoint issue, two of the party’s TDs indicated they would vote against any such laws in the Dáil, even in the event of a Government whip being imposed.
Minister for Health James Reilly, who will receive the report from the expert group, last night gave a commitment to his colleagues that he would consult with them on the findings before going to Cabinet. Dr Reilly made what one TD described as a “cast-iron guarantee” in that regard.
A number of TDs who spoke to The Irish Times indicated the parliamentary party was overwhelmingly opposed to liberalisation of the abortion laws.
“I firmly believe that abortion will present a greater challenge than austerity for this Government,” said one TD.
“Fine Gael and Labour have clearly diverging views on this. We made it clear that for Fine Gael this is a red-line issue. We must make sure that Fine Gael Ministers in Cabinet are fully aware of the strong views of Senators and TDs on the matter,” he added.
Two TDs, Simon Harris from Wicklow and James Bannon from Longford-Westmeath, said they would vote against any such law in the Dáil.
At the meeting Dr Reilly's response to the Abortion bill before the Dáil in April was raised. Dr Reilly's comments had been widely circulated in every county by our Keep Your Promise leaflet.
Spokeswoman Niamh Ui Bhriain said that the pro-life majority in Ireland had been making their voices heard to Fine Gael for the past three months, and that factor, combined with the strong pro-life statements made by TDs and Senators, had pushed Health Minister James Reilly into an unprecedented u-turn on abortion.
Dr Reilly had previously told the Dáil that he would act expeditiously to implement the European Court ruling in the ABC case and hinted that the findings of the 'expert group' would lead the government towards taking action on the X case.
His statement was widely circulated and resulted in a huge public response as phone calls were made to Fine Gael TDs opposing abortion.
Junior Minister, Kathleen Lynch of Labour, subsequently claimed on RTÉ's This Week programme that Ireland had no choice but to introduce abortion legislation because of the European Court ruling in ABC. "Ms Lynch is being entirely disingenuous, as she knows very well that Ireland can fulfil her obligations to the Court - and more importantly to the Irish people - without legalising abortion. Ireland should continue to protect both mother and baby by ensuring our pro-life ethos is protected," said Niamh Uí Bhriain.
The Life Institute has also welcomed remarks made by Fianna Fail leader, Micheál Martin, who told the Examiner that he 'remained to be convinced' that abortion legislation was necessary.
Back of our leaflet being distributed in North Leinster. Similarly customised leaflets are being distributed in other localities.