Creighton refutes Reilly claims on FG abortion commitment
Health minister says politicians ’signed up for this’ in manifesto
Minister for Europe Lucinda Creighton has refuted claims by Fine Gael minister Dr James Reilly that TDs understood the commitment to the abortion law in its election manifesto. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times
Minister for Health James Reilly said during an RTE Radio interview that the matter had been agreed in the Programme for Government and manifesto. “People signed up for this,” he said.
However during the broadcast Ms Creighton sent a tweet urging Dr Reilly not to “mislead people”. She said the party’s manifesto and the Programme for Government did not commit Fine Gael TDs “to this”.
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— Lucinda Creighton (@LCreighton) July 7, 2013
Dr Reilly also denied that politicians were bullied into voting for the abortion legislation. He regretted the loss of some Fine Gael party colleagues, but stressed the whip system was democratic and ensured party discipline.
He rejected claims that TDs were being expelled from the party for voting with their conscience against the bill, which will allow abortion when a woman is suicidal if passed on Wednesday. “There is absolutely no bullying going on here at all,” said Dr Reilly.
“What is being implemented is a whip system that everybody understands and has been with us for generations. It’s not something we dreamed up yesterday.
“We need to meet the needs of the people and do what’s right for the people believe that’s what we are doing.
“I regret that we have lost some and I hope that we don’t lose any more,” he told RTÉ Radio.
Dr Reilly also said protecting the life of the unborn will be very clear in the amendments he will be bringing forward to Cabinet.
Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton has said TDs must stand up and make the right choice on Wednesday and vote for “evidence-based” legislation.
She has lodged a series of amendments to the proposed legislation, including changing a clause allowing abortion when an expectant mother is at risk of suicide and for a gestation period after which an abortion cannot be carried out.
Dr Reilly denied her claims of “group-think” around the legislation, insisting no other bill before the house has had so much debate.
He stated the Government had “made it very clear” no other changes will be made to the legislation in its lifetime, like allowing abortion when a woman has been raped or for fatal foetal abnormalities.
Peter Mathews, Terence Flanagan, Brian Walsh and Billy Timmins were automatically expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party and face being kicked off Oireachtas committees after they voted against the Government in the first series of ballots.
As many as seven more Fine Gael TDs, including Ms Creighton, are said to be toying with rebellion over the bill.
Additional reporting PA