No promise on abortion code repeal, says Kenny

Taoiseach says he would need to consider replacement of Eighth Amendment before referendum

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will not commit to holding a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution – which gives an equal right to life to the mother and the unborn – if Fine Gael returns to government.

Speaking at the conclusion of the party’s parliamentary party think-in Adare, Co Limerick, Mr Kenny said he would not abolish the amendment without consideration of what might replace it.

The Labour Party has already said it will place a referendum to repeal the amendment at the heart of its general election manifesto but Mr Kenny indicated Fine Gael will not follow suit.

“In respect of the Eighth Amendment I do not favour abortion on demand and I have no intention of abolishing the Eight Amendment without considering what it might be that might replace it and that means more than any other sensitive issue I am quite prepared to listen to people who have contributions to make in that regard,” Mr Kenny said


“But believe me, believe me, to commit to abolishing the Eighth Amendment without consideration of what you might do is not on my radar.”

Sensitive issues

When pushed by reporters on whether Fine Gael will commit to a referendum, Mr Kenny said: “No, I am not committing to any referendum.

“Fine Gael in the preparation of its own Fine Gael programme will consider this matter very carefully along with a number of other sensitive issues as well.”

In response yesterday evening, Pro-Life Campaign deputy chairwoman Cora Sherlock said: “While we acknowledge the fact that the Taoiseach is not giving a commitment to dismantle the Eighth Amendment, he cannot downplay the significance of the law he introduced on abortion in 2013. Far from being restrictive, it allows for abortion in potentially wide-ranging circumstances and was not based on medical evidence.

“When the public finally gets an opportunity to hear about the positive role that the Eighth Amendment has played in protecting human life, support for its retention will become more evident.”

Tobacco price increase

Separately, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said increases in the price of tobacco cannot be ruled out in next month's budget.

Mr Noonan said “there’s always an interest in raising duty on tobacco”.

He said that if the Government was able to raise taxes it would mean it could potentially increase the €1.5 billion it is has available for spending increases and tax reductions in the budget.

“There can be variations on that (€1.5 billion) because under the fiscal rules if we were to raise taxes, it can increase the space. If we were to collect another €200 million in taxes, €1.5 billion would become €1.7 billion because you can spend receipts of extra taxes.

“But we’re not really minded to do a lot on tax increases. We may raise some taxes, obviously on health grounds. There’s always an interest in raising duty on tobacco. We won’t rule it out completely.”

Mr Noonan held a session on the budget with TDs and senators at the think in and asked the parliamentary party for their priorities for the October 13 package.

He said the responses largely focused on reducing the universal social charge, increasing funding and access for childcare and calls for a significant childcare programme.

“There was quite a strong view that we need a major housing programme,” said Mr Noonan.

“It’s not just social housing, because a lot of money has been allocated to local authorities for social housing already,” he added.