No revisiting of abortion Bill suicide question, says Kenny
Taoiseach sends clear signal to potential Fine Gael rebels he will not concede on issue
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the Government cannot “unpick” the Supreme Court decision in the X case that related to suicide ideation because to do so would be unconstitutional. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said categorically the decision to include suicide risk in the Government’s abortion legislation will not be revisited, sending out a clear signal to potential Fine Gael rebel TDs that he is not prepared to make any such concession on this issue.
Mr Kenny said the Government cannot “unpick” the Supreme Court decision in the X case that related to suicide ideation because to do so would be unconstitutional.
Mr Kenny was responding to strong criticisms which have been made of the inclusion of suicide risk as a grounds for abortion in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
A small number of Fine Gael TDs remain concerned about the Bill and their voting intentions are still unclear. The most prominent, and outspoken, has been Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton, who publicly clashed with Minister for Health James Reilly over the weekend.
Ms Creighton responded to Dr Reilly’s remarks on radio that Fine Gael’s intentions on the matter were clear at the time of the 2011 general election.
She tweeted in response: “Sorry Dr Reilly. Please do not mislead people. Our manifesto and programme for govt DID NOT commit FG Tds to this. Read it. Don’t make it up.”
At a media conference in Waterford, the Taoiseach was asked to respond to the public “spat” between two of his Ministers on the issue and to say how confident he was that no other TDs would join the four Fine Gael deputies who have already voted against the Bill.
Without referring to any of the critics by name, Mr Kenny said he would not deal with any individual matter in public and that Fine Gael as a party “deals with its own matters internally”.
“I would be confident that other people would support the Bill. It’s a sensitive subject. I have explained what the Bill is about and all that is involved.
“I do hope that we can continuously explain it so that people can support it. This is not about any individual, it’s about all the women of the country and their unborn children,” he said.
On the substance of the Bill, he said: “We are very clear here that the issue of suicidal intent is an issue that was dealt with by the Supreme Court decision. We as a Government are not able to unpick that decision.
“Therefore, to attempt to do so would render any Bill unconstitutional.”