Fianna Fáil senator urges party colleagues to support abortion law

Ned O’Sullivan says there should be no more ‘dancing around on the heads of pins’

Fianna Fáil Senator Ned O'Sullivan has said he expects all his party colleagues in the Oireachtas to support the abortion legislation.

He told the Seanad on Tuesday the people had had their say on the issue of abortion and that the reservations expressed had been heard, understood and acknowledged.

“Now that the people have spoken, as a lifelong member of Fianna Fáil, I expect every member of my party in the Oireachtas to support the legislation, which was clearly outlined in the draft heads of the Bill that attended the referendum,” he added. “We do not want any more dancing around on the heads of pins.”

Mr O’Sullivan, who supported a Yes vote, said he was making his remarks in public on an issue on which his party needed to reflect. “We were always a party of the people and we have to reconnect with the people,” he added.


Senator Lynn Ruane (Ind) said she definitely knew something was changing on polling day when men, the demographic they were told they needed to worry about, were the ones passing the Yes campaigners in their work vans and articulated trucks, all beeping and giving the thumbs up in support.

Senator Paul Gavan (Sinn Féin) said he was proud his party had opposed the 1983 referendum. "To be frank, it was not a particularly pleasant time."

Senator Ivana Bacik (Labour) said the Government should move swiftly to bring forward the necessary legislation.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee (Fianna Fáil ) called for the repeal of the constitutional provision prioritising the role of women in the home.

"This article and its language are wholly unsuitable for a modern Ireland, " she added.

Senator Alice Mary Higgins (Independent) said women now trusted more they would be safe, equal and heard. "It is for us as legislators to reflect that trust by ensuring we act in the most timely manner possible in implementing the legislator and giving it effect,'' she added.

Senator Frank Feighan (Fine Gael) said the referendum result had sent out a powerful signal that the country had changed and utterly so.

“It is time now for healing and reconciliation,” he added. “There should be no scapegoats.’’

Senator David Norris (Independent) praised the work of his "colleague and friend" Ms Bacik, who, he said, had led the movement for abortion reform as president of the students' union in Trinity College 30 years ago.