Fianna Fáil ‘branded’ as supporting abortion on demand, says group

Anti-abortion campaigners say Micheál Martin’s ‘cynical move’ is a betrayal of party

An anti-abortion demonstration and counter pro-choice demonstration in Dublin’s  O’Connell Street in July 2013. Photograph: Alan Betson

An anti-abortion demonstration and counter pro-choice demonstration in Dublin’s O’Connell Street in July 2013. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Fianna Fáil as a party is now synonymous with “support for abortion on demand” following Micheál Martin’s speech on Thursday, a leading anti-abortion group has said.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute says voters who support retention of the Eighth Amendment may now switch allegiances to political alternatives such as Independents and Renua after the Fianna Fáil leader spoke in support of allowing open access to abortion up to 12 weeks’ gestation.

“Micheál Martin is the leader of the party. The leader of the party is so closely identified with that the party,” Ms Uí Bhriain told The Irish Times. “Despite the fact that you have people like Bobby Aylward and Dara Calleary coming out and saying this is not the majority view within Fianna Fáil or the view of every TD, what Micheál Martin has done is he has branded Fianna Fáil now with support for abortion on demand.”

She termed Mr Martin’s Dáil speech on Thursday as a “deeply cynical move” in light of a vote to protect the Eighth Amendment, which affords equal status to the right to life of the mother and the unborn, at his party’s ardfheis in October.

Defections

Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman Cora Sherlock said the organisation’s office had been fielding calls from disgruntled Fianna Fáil members all day on Friday, but she stopped short of presaging wide-scale defections from the party.

“Certainly the sense of disillusionment and betrayal would come from the fact that at the recent ardfheis there was a vote overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the Eighth Amendment.

“Micheál Martin has completely undermined the membership by saying that he’s going to vote for removal of a human right from the Constitution. There are a lot of people really gutted with that.

“There’ll be some consolation for the membership of Fianna Fáil that by the looks of it it doesn’t seem that the majority of Fianna Fáil TDs are going to support him,” she said.

Ms Sherlock added that it is “too early” to talk about endorsing candidates for the next election given the impending referendum on abortion.

A spokesman for the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said it would not be commenting on Mr Martin’s stance, and pointed instead to recent comments made by Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin setting out the “inviolability of all human life”, including the unborn.