Ministers opposing abortion policy should resign - Hayes

Ministers should toe party line despite Kenny promise of free vote if re-elected, says MEP

Dublin MEP Brian Hayes, who will be co-ordinating the party’s general election campaign, said Cabinet or junior ministers who go against government policy during the lifetime of the next Dáil should resign their positions.

Dublin MEP Brian Hayes, who will be co-ordinating the party’s general election campaign, said Cabinet or junior ministers who go against government policy during the lifetime of the next Dáil should resign their positions.

 

Ministers should resign if they disagree with future government policy on abortion despite Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s promise of a free Dáil vote on the issue, Fine Gael’s director of elections has said.

Dublin MEP Brian Hayes, who will be co-ordinating the party’s general election campaign, said Cabinet or junior ministers who go against government policy during the lifetime of the next Dáil should resign their positions.

Mr Hayes also told The Irish Times Inside Politics podcast that talk of Fine Gael winning an overall majority is “for the birds”.

Mr Kenny has committed to a constitutional review of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which bans abortion, within six months of the general election if Fine Gael is returned to government.

Citizens’ forum

Mr Kenny has said a citizens’ forum to debate changes to the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which gives an equal right to life to the mother and the unborn, will be established to examine the issue.

The Taoiseach has committed to a free Dáil vote for his TDs on whatever the outcome of the forum is.

The move means the odds on a fourth referendum on abortion in little more than 30 years have been significantly shortened.

Take a position

However, Mr Hayes said he expects the next government would adopt whatever position is recommended by the forum. “The government would have to take a position. If the government are proposing a convention that would sit and come to some determination, I presume the government would have to take a response to that.”

Despite Mr Kenny’s commitment to a free Dáil vote, Mr Hayes questioned whether this should apply for junior and senior ministers.

“Now whether it should apply to members of the government is another matter,” Mr Hayes said. “That is not the same as backbenchers.

“I have always held the view that if the government, per se, including all ministers of state, are arguing for something in terms of a legislative proposal, then it is incumbent on you as a member of the government to support or leave the government. This would be post the people’s convention that the Taoiseach is proposing.”

Fine Gael said the forum would be “ a process of consideration by citizens, expert groups and politicians” of the issue but added that its proposed structure has not been finalised.