Howlin says abortion referendum is ‘a once in a generation opportunity’

Labour leader says Government should not seek second vote if this one is defeated

Labour party leader Brendan Howlin says he believes there will be a decisive result in favour of change. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Labour party leader Brendan Howlin says he believes there will be a decisive result in favour of change. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has said the Government should not seek to hold a second referendum on the Eighth Amendment if it is defeated.

Mr Howlin was responding to remarks by Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty over the weekend, where she said campaigners for the repeal of the eighth amendment will not accept a No vote in the forthcoming referendum.

Speaking to reporters at Leinster House on Tuesday, Mr Howlin said it was an “unfortunate” statement.

“Once the decision of the people is made it will last for a considerable period of time. That is why the decision is so important.

“To give any impression that this is not a once in a generation opportunity to change the Eighth Amendment is a grave mistake.”

Mr Howlin and the Labour party support repealing Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution and allowing for access to terminations within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

He told reporters he believed there will be a decisive result in favour of change, claiming the majority of people will not accept the status quo.

However, Mr Howlin stressed the outcome of the decision of the people must be respected, regardless of the result.

“Whatever decision is made will stand the test of time. That not only lasts for the decision to take Article 40.3.3 out of the Constitution but also for any legislation that is put in.

“I do not see any Oireachtas in the next few years changing the legislation that will flow from that aswell because there will be an endorsement of that from the people, not only of the deletion of the Amendment but also of the type of legislation that should replace it.”

Asked how long that timeframe should be, the Labour leader said:

“I am not going to put a timeline on it but it certainly won’t be done à la-Nice or Lisbon, where we come back to it in a matter of months.

“One way or another this decision will be decisive for many years.”