Dáil defeats Clare Daly’s abortion Bill 104 to 20

Fatal foetal abnormality Bill defeated as Sinn Féin abstained

Anne Ferris TD said she had to support Clare Daly’s Bill to allow for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality. The bill was defeated in the Dail by 104 votes to 20.

 

Independent Socialist Clare Daly’s Bill to allow for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality was defeated in the Dail by 104 votes to 20 with the abstention of Sinn Féin.

Labour’s Anne Ferris, as expected, voted for the legislation in defiance of the party whip. Ciara Conway and Michael McNamara, whose names had been mentioned as supporting the legislation, held the party line.

Just three Fianna Fáil TDs voted for the legislation - Billy Kelleher, Robert Troy and Niall Collins. Other members voted with party leader Micheal Martin against the legislation as did Independents Noel Grealish, Michael Fitzmaurice, Michael Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry.

Earlier row Ahead of voting, the Independent TD accused the Taoiseach of hypocrisy in heated Dáil exchanges on the Government’s rejection of her Bill.

Enda Kenny had ruled out accepting the legislation, having received an opinion from Attorney General Maire Whelan that it was unconstitutional. He said the AG’s advice would not be published in line with precedent.

Ms Daly accused the Taoiseach of insulting people.

“How dare you attempt to have the arrogance to interpret the Constitution when it is only something our courts can do,’’ she added. “That is a fact.’’

Accusing Mr Kenny of a cop-out, Ms Daly asked if the issue would be included in the referendums planned for next spring.

“If you are not saying that, then you are letting these families down and, quite frankly, you are a hypocrite,’’ she added.

Mr Kenny said the matter was sensitive and tragic, particularly for the mother of the unborn child.

“You do not own the Constitution, nor do I,’’ he said. “You cannot change the Constitution, nor can I.’’

He added it was the people’s Constitution and only they could change it.

“It has been a long-standing situation in this country, where the advice given by the Attorney General of the day has never been published,’’ Mr Kenny added.

The Constitution said quite clearly it was not lawful for legislators to vote for something they knew to be repugnant to it, Mr Kenny said.

“Now, what you want to do is fly in the face of all that, pass a piece of legislation and then have it tested by the Supreme Court,’’ the Taoiseach said.

“I suggest to you, Deputy Daly, that is not the way to go.’’

Inaction Ms Daly said it was rubbish to suggest her Bill was unconstitutional, adding only the High Court and the Supreme Court could adjudicate on its constitutionality. All he had was the Attorney General’s opinion, she said.

Ms Daly said her Bill would enable women to terminate a pregnancy, surrounded by family and friends in Ireland, if they felt they could not continue with it and wait for the baby to die.

“Instead, you propose inaction, condemning those people to a lonely journey, most likely to Liverpool, surrounded by holidaymakers and business people, while the bottom comes out of their world.

It was cruel, inhumane, torture and a violation of human rights, she said, adding it was avoidable.

“Eighty per cent of the people have said they want you do something about this,’’ Ms Daly added.