‘Appropriate woman’ to chair group on Eighth amendment

Enda Kenny says this law on abortion has divided Irish society and polarised it

Taoiseach  Enda Kenny    has said he wants an  expert group to  work with the Oireachtas all-party committee to discuss the possibility of a referendum on the Eighth amendment.   Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he wants an expert group to work with the Oireachtas all-party committee to discuss the possibility of a referendum on the Eighth amendment. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the expert group examining the Eighth amendment will be chaired by an “appropriate woman”.

Mr Kenny said the issue had divided Irish society and polarised it for decades. He said he wanted to depoliticise the issue and have an inclusive debate.

The Taoiseach said: “I want to work with an expert group which I expect will be chaired by an appropriate woman to work with the Oireachtas all-party committee.” Mr Kenny did not specify which committee would work on the issue.

“If a consensus emerges from that we can consider what might be put to the people by way of referendum.” The Taoiseach said it was not as simple as deleting the eighth amendment from the Constitution.

He said: “I struggle with this myself. Our society has changed, our values have changed. Courageous women have come forward to recount their experiences. The Eighth amendment has been there for 33 years. It has divided Irish society and polarised it on a number of occasions.”

The Government has committed to establishing a citizens forum to examine the issue and whether it should be put to a referendum.

A majority of people would like to see the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution to allow abortion in certain circumstances, according the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll.

The question put to respondents read: “The 8th amendment to the Constitution gives equal rights to the mother and to the unborn child. Are you in favour of repealing this amendment so that terminations in, for example, the case of rape or fatal foetal abnormality could be made legal, or are you in favour of keeping the amendment?”

Some 64 per cent said they were in favour of repealing the amendment, 25 per cent were against and 11 per cent had no opinion. A big majority of supporters of all the political parties said they were in favour of repealing the amendment.