Abortion vote may be held to suit students, says Varadkar

Taoiseach says abortion vote may be before or after summer

  Leo Varadkar in the Great Hall at Queen’s University,  Belfast. Photograph: AFP/Paul Faith.

Leo Varadkar in the Great Hall at Queen’s University, Belfast. Photograph: AFP/Paul Faith.

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has pledged to take student concerns about the timing of the upcoming abortion referendum into account when setting a date for the vote.

He said the Government was planning a referendum in May or June 2018 and if a referendum on the Eighth Amendment did not take place before the summer it would happen in the latter part of the year.

Mr Varadkar was asked at a speaking engagement at Queen's University Belfast if he was aware many students wanted to see the vote take place outside the summer months. “I definitely take the point and get the message that young people would like to have a referendum at a time that they are in the country so they can fully participate. So we will absolutely take that into account in setting a date.”

He said it was not just a matter of holding a referendum. The wording of the referendum question had to be agreed, legislation had to be put in place and a campaign had to happen.

“What we are planning for is a referendum probably May or June of next year,” he said.

“So if we don’t have it before the summer then we’ll probably have it in the latter part of the year. We haven’t set a date yet,” he said.

Mr Varadkar noted referendums had taken place in June before.

A number of young women sitting close to Mr Varadkar removed their jackets to reveal “Repeal” jumpers.