Labour TDs back Burton’s pledge on Eighth Amendment vote

Deputies say Tánaiste’s referendum promise reflects widespread view within the party

 This year’s March for Choice  at Merrion Square, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

This year’s March for Choice at Merrion Square, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times


Tánaiste Joan Burton’s vow that she will ensure a referendum on abortion rights will take place if Labour returns to government has not met with any major dissent within her party.

Ms Burton wrote to party members at the weekend promising that a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment will be a Labour Party priority in any negotiations for a programme of government.

While legislating for issues arising from the Supreme Court decision in the X case and repealing the Eighth have been party policy for some time, some of the party’s rural representatives have held more conservative views on the issue.

However, the party’s representation outside the main urban areas has changed in recent years.

Widespread view

Labour TDs contacted by The Irish Times said the Tánaiste’s comments reflect the widespread view within the party.

Michael McCarthy is a TD for the largely rural constituency of Cork South-West.

“I will be supporting the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. There is not great surprise that this is a priority for us, now that the X case has been legislated for,” he said.

Willie Penrose, the party’s TD for Longford-Westmeath, also said he supported the position taken by the Tánaiste.

He said that he would support the repeal of the Eighth, but that it was important, as a precursor, to have the appropriate legislation in place to deal with the areas that are currently excluded, such as fatal foetal abnormalities.

“It would be foolish to run in and repeal the Amendment without legislation ready to replace it with.

“We could not have nothing in its place for the people to adjudicate,” he said.

Ms Burton has said that the Eighth Amendment is “retrograde” and could not be changed soon enough.