Taoiseach refuses to commit to referendum on abortion

Kenny unwilling to abolish eighth amendment without considering what might replace it

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD with party members during the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting in The Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare Co Limerick. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD with party members during the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting in The Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare Co Limerick. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times.

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will not commit to holding a referendum on repealing the eighth amendment of the Constitution, which gives an equal right to life to the mother and the unborn, if Fine Gael returns to government.

Speaking at the conclusion of the party’s parliamentary party think in Adare, Co Limerick, Mr Kenny said he would not abolish the eighth amendment without consideration of what might replace it.

The Labour Party has already said it will place a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment at the heart of its general election manifesto but Mr Kenny indicated Fine Gael will not follow suit.

“In respect of the eighth amendment I do not favour abortion on demand and I have no intention of abolishing the eighth amendment without considering what it might be that might replace it and that means more than any other sensitive issue I am quite prepared to listen to people who have contributions to make in that regard,” Mr Kenny said.

“But believe me, believe me, to commit to abolishing the eighth amendment without consideration of what you might do is not on my radar.”

When pushed by reporters on whether Fine Gael will commit to a referendum, Mr Kenny said: “No, I am not committing to any referendum.

“Fine Gael in the preparation of its own Fine Gael programme will consider this matter very carefully along with a number of other sensitive issues as well.”

Separately, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said increases in the price of tobacco cannot be ruled out in next month’s budget.

Mr Noonan said “there’s always an interest in raising duty on tobacco”.

He said that if the Government was able to raise taxes it would mean it could potentially increase the €1.5 billion it is said to have available for spending increases and tax reductions in the budget.

“There can be variations on that [€1.5billion] because under the fiscal rules if we were to raise taxes, it can increase the space. If we were to collect another €200 million in taxes, €1.5 billion would become €1.7 billion because you can spend receipts of extra taxes.

“But we’re not really minded to do a lot on tax increases. We may raise some taxes, obviously on health grounds. There’s always an interest in raising duty on tobacco. We won’t rule it out completely.”