Sligo council calls on Government to remove suicide clause from Bill

Motion prompts walkout by FG members

 The incident occurred when a Fine Gael representative tabled a motion

The incident occurred when a Fine Gael representative tabled a motion

Tue, Jul 2, 2013, 09:46

The chamber of Sligo County Council suffered an exodus of Fine Gael councillors and one Independent yesterday. The incident occurred when a Fine Gael representative tabled a motion calling on colleagues to ensure Sligo-based Oireachtas members vote No on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill ballot.

Cllr Matt Lyons, the Leas Chathaoirleach, watched as most of his party colleagues disappeared from their seats moments before he made his address. Only three of the 12-strong Fine Gael contingent remained, although they abstained from voting.

Cllr Lyons spoke of the deep divisions caused by the issue and said he understood the concern and unease his motion had caused the party at local and national level.

“In advance of today’s meeting I was informed that there could be consequences for me if I did not withdraw this motion. I am prepared to face these consequences,” he said.

The councillor, who has served in local government for 30 years, is opposed to the Bill in its current form which includes suicide ideation as grounds for abortion. This, he said, “was being included on spurious medical grounds and with an ulterior motive which was the eventual legalisation of abortion on demand.”

One Fine Gael and two Fianna Fáil councillors were absent for the entire meeting of the 25-strong council and as the contentious motion neared five more Fine Gael councillors left the chamber. They were followed by an Independent, former Labour general election candidate Veronica Cawley.

The motion was carried by nine votes to one with four abstentions.

This means Sligo County Council now calls on the Government to amend the draft Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill and remove suicidal ideation as grounds for abortion.