herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Labour TDs set to miss abortion vote

LABOUR TD Anne Ferris has said she will vote against the Government and support Clare Daly's abortion bill today.

Wicklow TD Ms Ferris outlined her intentions on Claire Byrne Live on RTE last night, saying the issue was above politics.

Labour TDs are reportedly unhappy with the party's stance to oppose the bill, which seeks to allow abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

A number of "frustrated" Labour TDs look set to be absent from the Dail for the vote - but Ms Ferris is expected to vote against the Government, which could see her lose the party whip.

"I am pro-choice and I make no apologies for it," Ms Ferris said last night. "The bill is above politics."

Junior Social Protection Minister Kevin Humphreys confirmed that a number of Labour TDs will be absent, including himself.

However, he told Morning Ireland that it may be because a Dail deputy has "a very busy schedule".

"I myself may not be in the chamber because I'm taking legislation through the Seanad today," Humphreys said.

"So there may be people missing. It may not be because they're particularly missing to avoid the vote."

However, Humphreys noted that he agrees "in principle" with the bill which seeks to allow abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.

"It's not really the right thing to do to put a woman on a plane to go over and have an abortion when the foetus isn't viable, is not going to survive and make her go through that nine months," Humphreys said.

"A woman in that position should have a choice."

ANSWERS

Clare TD Michael McNamara has also indicated he could go as far as voting against the Government.

A number of TDs, who did not wish to speak publicly have told the Herald that unless they get satisfactory answers at a private party meeting ahead of the vote, they intend abstaining.

The Government is opposing Ms Daly's bill after Attorney General Maire Whelan ruled that it is unconstitutional, but yesterday there were calls from the Labour backbenches for the party to get a second legal opinion.

Meath East TD Dominic Hannigan said party members are seeking a second legal opinion that suggested that the Eighth Amendment may be quashed. He plans on raising this at the special briefing for TDs today.

Tanaiste Joan Burton and Communications Minister Alex White will advise party members as to the parameters of Ms Whelan's legal opinion.

Ms Burton's spokesman Jack Wall ruled out any second-guessing of the Attorney General.

hnews@herald.ie

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