Rabbitte expresses 'surprise' at bishops' abortion statement


Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has said he was "taken aback" by the intervention of the Catholic archbishops on the question of the Government decision to outline legislation and regulations for the circumstances in which abortions may take place here.

The four Catholic Archbishops last night called for TDs to be given a free vote on the Government’s proposed legislation on abortion which will be introduced next year.

Speaking today, Mr Rabbitte said he had been "a bit taken aback by the vigour of the language" in the statement.

"I’m also a bit surprised at the intervention at this stage because the legislation has not been published yet. So I’m not entirely sure how you can make that kind of strident intervention without seeing the legislation," he said.

With regard for the call for TDs to have a free vote on the issue, Mr Rabbitte said the Government had “made plain” that the whip system that had operated in our parliament since 1922 would continue to apply.

He said he had “no objection at all” to the archbishops making their input.

“What I do not want to see is the clergy dictating to legislators how to legislate. But I have no objection to the bishops making their input.”

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