Kenny made decision on Eighth Amendment alone, Donohoe says

Fitzgerald says announcement was ‘very thoughtful response’ to complex abortion issue

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said Enda Kenny made the decision on the Eighth Amendment alone. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said Enda Kenny made the decision on the Eighth Amendment alone. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe has denied he bounced Taoiseach Enda Kenny into making a decision on the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking on Friday Mr Donohoe said Mr Kenny made the decision alone.

On Wednesday Mr Kenny said Fine Gael TDs will be allowed a free vote on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution after a constitutional convention-like body is given time to draw up proposals after the general election. The amendment gives the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn

Mr Donohoe and his colleagues Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald urged Mr Kenny to address the concerns around the issue at a meeting on Tuesday.

On Friday Mr Donohoe said: “This is an issue is that no other government wanted to deal with for over 30 years. Now the Taoiseach and the party have laid out the process for examining all matters in relation to this. There will be a people’s assembly on this after which there will an Oireachtas committee who will engage on this matter.

“This is the Taoiseach who dealt with the X case, a matter that no other Taoiseach, no other party leader wanted to deal with.

‘Understood sensitivities’

“He dealt with it because he understood the sensitivities involved in this matter. He put in a place in the Oireachtas that looked at this and builds a consensus on the matter .

“The Taoiseach has now outlined a similar process will be put in place to deal with this matter.”

On Friday Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the announcement by the Taoiseach was a “very thoughtful response” to what everyone knew was a very complex issue.

She said Mr Kenny had said earlier in Limerick that it was not a question of saying repeal the eighth amendment and that she agreed with him on that. It was a question of what was the alternative and where does one go on what is a complex issue.

Mr Kenny had said at the parliamentary party meeting that a process needed to be developed, as had happened with other issues, whether it be by way of a constitutional convention or an Oireachtas committee, the minister said. People were clearly concerned and what was needed was a process.

‘Very sensible’

She said Mr Kenny’s proposal was “a very sensible and reasonable way” for the Taoiseach to respond at this point.

Mr Donohoe, Ms Fitzgerald and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar insisted at the weekly Fine Gael meeting of Ministers that Mr Kenny had to deal with the issue.

Mr Kenny had come under pressure after Minister for Children James Reilly urged a repeal of the amendment, which gives an equal right to life of the mother and the unborn, in an interview at the weekend.

The Taoiseach earlier this week gave Dr Reilly a dressing-down in front of his party’s ministerial team over his comments.

However, Mr Donohoe and Ms Fitzgerald, who are two of Mr Kenny’s closest allies, intervened and urged the Taoiseach to address the issue.

Mr Varadkar also spoke and insisted that Fine Gael must make its position known sooner rather than later.