FF TDs praise Micheál Martin for supporting repeal of Eighth Amendment
Majority of party’s TDs say Martin has taken brave step ‘politically and personally’
declaring his support yesterday for repealing the Eighth Amendment and for legislation permitting abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Mr Martin told the Dáil he would vote to remove article 40.3.3 from the Constitution and legislate – in line with the recommendations of an Oireachtas committee – to allow for terminations in the first trimester of pregnancy. The Fianna Fáil leader said he would also support abortions when a mother’s life or health was at risk and in the cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.
A number of TDs including Waterford TD Mary Butler and Dublin Bay North TD Seán Haughey had expressed strong reservations at the recommendations at the meeting on Wednesday night.
Speaking to The Irish Times last night, after Mr Martin’s Dáil statement, one TD said the Fianna Fáil leader would be “lynched, killed” by his parliamentary party, while another acknowledged there would be “war” but anticipated it would ease off after a couple of days.
However, the majority claimed Mr Martin had taken a very brave step “politically and personally”.
TDs including Clare TD Timmy Dooley, Mayo TD Lisa Chambers, Cork North-Central TD Billy Kelleher and Kildare South TD Fiona O’Loughlin strongly supported Mr Martin’s comments.
I’m conscious that not everyone will agree with the view that I have come to on the 8th Amendment, but it is my honest view of what I think is the right thing to do. As a country, we owe it to each other to have a compassionate debate.— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) January 18, 2018
Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte, who supports retaining the Eighth Amendment but amending it for abortion in certain circumstances, said Mr Martin had shown remarkable leadership.
The party’s health spokesman, Billy Kelleher, rejected suggestions the declaration would divide the party or cause ructions within. “Micheál has always said this is a matter for individuals and he has an individual view. He is entitled to express that. He has shown exceptional leadership.”
The party’s housing spokesman Barry Cowen said nobody should bear a grudge against Mr Martin for expressing his own view. “He gave each party member a right to express their own opinion and this is his view.”
Roscommon-Galway TD Eugene Murphy said he was “very impressed” by Mr Martin’s passionate speech but did not 100 per cent agree with him. One party TD privately said Mr Martin’s speech had made them reconsider their own position.
The debate on the Oireachtas committee recommendations will continue next week.
During the debate, the party’s justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan confirmed he would support repeal bur declined to state if he would support terminations up to 12 weeks.
He acknowledged change should be made to allow for terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities and when a woman had been raped.
Sligo-Leitrim TD Eamon Scanlon said he would vote against repealing the Eighth Amendment and would seek to protect the rights of the unborn.
Explaining this shift in his opinion, Mr Martin said he had read the committee report over the Christmas period and had reflected very carefully on its findings.