Creighton ‘relieved’ after voting against provision in abortion legislation
Will campaign for Fine Gael in local and European elections next year
Fine Gael junior minister Lucinda Creighton has voted against a crucial provision in the Government’s abortion legislation and will resign her ministerial post and leave the party.
Ms Creighton voted in favour of an amendment to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill which would have deleted the provision on suicide from the legislation. She backed an amendment in the names of Mattie McGrath, Billy Timmins, Terence Flanagan, Éamon Ó Cuív and Peadar Tobin that would have deleted the suicide provision.
As the debate on almost 200 amendments continued, Ms Creighton said she wanted to protect viable life and bring in limitations on when terminations could be carried out.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Ms Creighton said she felt very sad as she had been a member of Fine Gael since she was 18. “At the same time I am relieved because this is a huge issue that has been weighing on everybody’s mind for months,” she added.
Asked if there was a route back to Fine Gael for her, she said it was hard to know what the future held, but she remained a member of Fine Gael and would continue to work in Dublin South East.
Ms Creighton talked to the Taoiseach as she left the Dáil chamber.
Asked what she had said to him, she said: “I wished him luck. I have worked in his Department [for two and a half years]. We have a great relationship, I have the height of admiration for him and how he conducts his business particularly on the European stage. He has done a huge amount to rebuild the stature and credibility of this country.”
Her defection brings to five the number of Fine Gael TDs who have rebelled against the Bill but others who had wavered backed the Government in a series of votes on amendments last night.
‘Shambolic and lamentable’
The marathon Dáil debate on abortion continued with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin describing the Government’s handling of the issue as “shambolic and lamentable”.
TDs resumed the debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill at 5pm yesterday, just 12 hours after rising in the early hours.
Mr Kenny defended the decision to sit through the night, saying there had been some very good contributions and it was “no harm that it went to 5am”.
Mr Martin told the Dáil on its resumption the Government’s approach had “undermined respect for parliament and how we conduct ourselves”.
In response, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the legislation was an important issue and the Government was allowing the fullest possible debate on the report stage of the Bill.
The Labour TD for Clare, Michael McNamara, who voted against the Government at 5am yesterday, is not facing disciplinary action, as party chief whip Emmet Stagg described his action as a “genuine mistake”.
There was also controversy about the actions of Fine Gael TD for Cork East Tom Barry for an incident in the Dáil chamber in the early hours when he pulled Áine Collins, TD for the neighbouring constituency of Cork North West, on to his lap.
“What I did last night was disrespectful and inappropriate,” Mr Barry said in a statement.