Mattie McGrath denies planning to obstruct Abortion Bill

Dáil told one couple will be able to try for another child because of referendum result

Indepdendent TD Mattie McGrath. Photograph:  Gareth Chaney/Collins

Indepdendent TD Mattie McGrath. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has told the Dáil he will table amendments to the forthcoming abortion legislation.

Speaking during the second day of debate on the referendum outcome, the Tipperary TD said “I have no intention of obstructing this Bill but I have every intention of placing amendments”.

He said “I will be having amendments and constructive amendments”.

Legislation to regulate the termination of pregnancies will be introduced in the Dáil by Minister for Health Simon Harris in July.

Mr McGrath still believed the referendum result would be seen “in the fullness of time as a historic lost opportunity to choose a better way”.

He said three quarters of a million people voted no. “When will there voice be heard?” And he claimed there were moves to completely shut down the “pro-life voice”.

Mr McGrath accused the Minister of “trickery and deceit” because he said he was not allowed into a meeting on Wednesday.

In response, Mr Harris told him the meeting was to brief party and group health spokespersons “and you’re certainly not one of them”, which Mr McGrath protested at.

The Minister said the people had spoken clearly and in large numbers in the referendum and said “we care”.

The women have voted to tell women “that they are trusted, that they are valued and that they are equal”.

Misogynistic legacy

He said the abortion referendum was about “shouldering our responsibilities” and about “consigning a misogynistic legacy to our country’s history books”.

Mr Harris said the legislation “will be in line with the Bill that was put before the people when they cast their vote last week”.

Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan said the referendum meant for one young couple that they could now try for another child.

Ms O’Sullivan said that the couple, who have a child, said the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution “has changed our lives”.

She said they had had a pregnancy with a fatal foetal anomaly and had had to travel to Britain for termination.

“They had one child after that who is perfectly healthy,” but said “we would not have chanced another pregnancy” had the referendum been defeated, because of the possibility of a similar situation.

Following the result, “they knew if there was a problem they could now say that they were safe in their own country”.

She said the referendum was about more than abortion, it was about Ireland changing its culture. “Someone in power out there doesn’t know better for us ourselves, than Irish women.”

Minister of State Helen McEntee thanked the women “who lost their lives because of the Eighth Amendment, their families who told their stories and the women of this country who told their stories when they never should have had to, I thank them for opening so many eyes to reality. As a young woman, I will be forever grateful.”

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly said that from Saturday “seven days after the result was announced, the Eighth amendment will no longer exist in Bunreacht na hÉireann”, when it will have been formally expunged.

Sinn Féin health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly said “the old certainties have definitely been challenged, and a new and better Ireland will emerge from this. For the avoidance of doubt, the North is next.”

Sheepish

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell said her constituency of Dublin Bay South returned the highest Yes vote in the referendum at

She highlighted “disturbing commentary” by TDs opposing the referendum, which she said, “involved nods toward misogyny and prejudice that was not reflected in their own local ballot boxes”.

She said “people are feeling sheepish now and out of step with their electorate. And they should be.”

Her constituency colleague, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, said his partyhad the highest level of Yes votes and believed the Taoiseach’s most important remark in the debate was to “try and make this the best country in which to raise a family”.

Mr Ryan called for the legislation to specifically provide for women in Northern Ireland to be able to avail of services we provide there. “The UK system has helped us at times when we turned our backs in this House.”

Independents4Change TD Joan Collins said the “anticipated difference between older and younger, between men and women didn’t happen because it doesn’t really exist. People voted on their life experience.”

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said that when the Taoiseach asked her to be campaign coordinator for the Yes sides, it was Holy Thursday and she went down to her parish church for prayers. “The irony of that was not lost on me.”

It was one of the most contentious complex topics in Irish society. Quoting poet and writer Maya Angelou she said “we may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated”.

The abortion referendum campaign was an “unprecedented movement of people power and in particular of Irish women”, according to People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett.

He said it ushered in a new and better Ireland. It was “not a quiet revolution, but a very vocal determined revolution”, he said.