Labour to insist on abortion vote in future FG coalition deal

Junior Coalition partner surprised after Kenny declines to rule out FF-FG alliance

 

Labour will insist on a referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which gives equal right to life to a mother and her unborn child, as a prerequisite to entering coalition with Fine Gael.

The party launches its general election manifesto today, the final party to do so in the campaign. Fine Gael’s manifesto only commits to a citizens’ assembly to examine the Eighth Amendment.

Labour sources, however, said any process must lead to a referendum, and this would be one of three main elements it would insist on in a programme for government.

A Catholic bishop urged voters to question all general election candidates on their views on abortion.

As well as the referendum, Labour will also insist on an increased emphasis on public spending and that tax cuts be directed towards lower earners. Sources said the three issues will be key issues in any negotiations with Fine Gael.

Bishop of Cork and Ross John Buckley said it was sad that a child’s life-limiting condition was being used by some candidates to promote the legalisation of abortion on wider grounds.

Candidates “should be questioned politely but firmly, not just on their future intentions but on their past record,” he said on Saturday.

United front

Fianna Fáil

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday said he was not “contemplating” a post-election alliance with Fianna Fáil.

But Mr Kenny declined to definitively rule out an arrangement with Fianna Fáil, which led to raised eyebrows in Labour.

One Labour figure said it had taken Mr Kenny 10 days to rule out seeking the support of Michael Lowry.

Labour TDs are conscious they will have to differentiate the party from Fine Gael, while also maintaining a united government front.

The Taoiseach yesterday repeated comparisons with Portugal made by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.

Mr Noonan said that when a left-wing government took power in Portugal after a period of political instability, it led to economic instability.

“It is up to the people. They go to the polls with the recovery itself in [their] hands,” Mr Kenny said.

As Fine Gael also intensified its attacks on Fianna Fáil, Billy Kelleher, Micheál Martin’s director of elections, sent a note to party candidates last night claiming this showed how panicked Mr Kenny’s party was.

Desperate

The campaign will intensify this week, with a televised, seven-way debate scheduled for tonight on RTÉ television.

It will feature Mr Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton, Fianna Fáil leader Mr Martin, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams, Renua Ireland’s Lucinda Creighton, Stephen Donnelly of the Social Democrats and Richard Boyd-Barrett of Anti Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit.