Two Fine Gael TDs to be forced on to abortion committee

As rules over Senator numbers change, two TD places still to be filled by new leader

Kate O’Connell, one of only two Fine Gael TDs who have already agreed to join committee. Photograph: Eric Luke

Kate O’Connell, one of only two Fine Gael TDs who have already agreed to join committee. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The new Fine Gael leader will have to compel two party TDs to sit on the Oireachtas abortion committee, following a compromise offered in the row over the number of Senators involved.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, combined, will continue to command a majority on the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which will consider the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly.

The original plan was to have 16 TDs and four Senators on the committee. The Seanad had pushed for seven representatives, but will now accept six. A Sinn Féin Senator, whose name has yet to be confirmed, is expected to take a position. There will now be 15 TDs on the committee.

The matter was discussed by the Seanad committee on procedures and privileges (CPP) this week and is expected to be discussed by the Dáil business committee.

Fine Gael may now have two Senators, expected to be Catherine Noone and Jerry Buttimer. There are four slots for Fine Gael TDs on the committee, but only Kate O’Connell and Bernard Durkan have confirmed they will take part to date.

Labour will have just one slot on the committee. TD Jan O’Sullivan has already declared her intention to take the position, but Senator Ivana Bacik is also interested.

Fianna Fáil has confirmed its four TDs: Lisa Chambers, Billy Kelleher, Anne Rabbitte and James Brown. They will be joined by Senator Ned O’Sullivan.

Two Sinn Féin TDs will serve on the committee. They are Jonathan O’Brien and Louise O’Reilly.

For Solidarity/People Before Profit, deputies Ruth Coppinger and Bríd Smith hoped to rotate a position, but the Dáil business committee has declined to support such an arrangement.

The Social Democrats, the Greens and Séamus Healy, the Workers and Unemployed Action Group TD, had asked for a similar situation, but are expected to be represented by Catherine Murphy.

Three Senators on the Civil Engagement Group, an alliance of Independent representatives involving Mary-Alice Higgins, Lynn Ruane and Colette Kelleher, had also asked to rotate their seat, but Ms Kelleher’s was the name submitted to the Clerk of the Seanad.

Also due to take places on the committee are Independent Senator Ronan Mullen, Independents4Change TD Clare Daly and Independent deputy Mattie McGrath.