After 20 years of inaction, leaders still afraid of Act
“However, the people spoke in a referendum and firmly placed the responsibility upon the Oireachtas to deal with the issue by means of legislation . . . When will the Government bring forward legislation, as promised?”
Enda talked and he talked but managed not to mention termination or legislation.
So Gerry tried again and some of his colleagues chimed in for good measure. When is that legislation coming? Whereupon Enda had a cut at him over his expenses at Westminster, then went off on a baffling tangent about Mary Lou McDonald.
Legislating for abortion – even with the 1992 Supreme Court ruling to blame and the 2010 European Court decision in the ABC case to hide behind – is something Enda would rather ignore (as did the leaders of six administrations before him). Whatever his personal opinions might be, the Taoiseach knows it’s the one issue that will cause mayhem in his party.
The same goes for Labour.
If this legislation ever comes around, it will be a tortuous debate, particularly if senior politicians can’t even address the issue without talking in riddles.
A group of independent deputies put it up to the Government. “I am boiling mad that this has occurred in this country,” fumed Clare Daly, whose Bill to deal with the Supreme Court decision was defeated earlier this year.
“It would appear that this beautiful young woman is dead as a result only of political cowardice. The failure of successive Governments, including this Government, to provide for a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion where her life is in danger, is absolutely outrageous.”
Joe Higgins castigated the Taoiseach for his “pathetically deficient” response to Ms Halappanavar’s death. “Like a scared rabbit caught in headlights, he counselled no rush to make a judgment on legislation for the X case. Would somebody tell this out- of-touch Taoiseach that it is 20 years since legislation was demanded?”
And outside the gates of Leinster House, the protesters gathered, as they did in other cities around Ireland.
True to type, Mick Wallace was tearful, but understandably so: “How could they let a young woman go to save a baby who would die anyway?”
Maybe there is another explanation, but if there isn’t, we should hang our heads in shame. We should do anyway – after 20 years of inaction – with Kenny and Martin leading the way. That’s what leaders do – but not here.