herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

TD reveals heartache of daughter's death

Richard Boyd Barrett
Richard Boyd Barrett

THE Dail will vote next week on a new bill which would allow termination in cases where the foetus is incompatible with life.

Independent TD Clare Daly moved the Protection of Life in Pregnancy (Amendment) (Fatal Foetal Abnormalities) Bill 2013 in the chamber.

The debate was highly charged and deeply emotional, with People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett opening up about his own tragic experience.

Mr Boyd Barrett spoke of having to bury his daughter Ella 13 years ago, as she had a fatal foetal abnormality.

In an emotional speech in the Dail, Mr Barrett said that his daughter would have been 13 this spring.

"Myself and her mother and her two brothers think about her every day," he said.

Mr Boyd Barrett said that a friend had given them a tree at the time, which is now planted on Killiney Hill to remind them of her.

"And we go up every year to remember her, and think about how she might still be here, because she was a daughter that we desperately wanted," he said.

The Dun Laoghaire TD later opened up to Ray D'Arcy on his RTE show about his decision to talk about his loss in the Dail.

"I was thinking about her a lot as I went in to speak at the debate, and then as I heard the Government outline their position, and the view they were taking that they were going to vote down this amendment, I really just felt that the human reality of these sort of tragic circumstances needed to be brought into the debate," he said.

"Because I don't think the Government, or at least some of the people who spoke, fully understand that this situation is very unique."

He said his daughter lived for 20 days and he said that right from the outset it was clear that she wouldn't live.

"Of course, we sought every opinion we could possibly get in the hope that maybe there was some chance," Mr Boyd Barrett said.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said he could not support the legislation proposal because the bill is "unconstitutional" and a referendum would be required to amend the Constitution.

The topic has deeply divided Government parties and Opposition members. A vote will take place on Tuesday.

hnews@herald.ie

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