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Most politicians want to repeal the 8th Amendment - just don't ask Fine Gael

TheJournal.ie asked every TD and Senator if they favour repealing the 8th Amendment. Here’s what we found out…

pro choice pro life TD Clare Daly is among the most prominent pro-choice politicians in Ireland. While Senator Rónán Mullen is an outspoken pro-life campaigner. Source: Photocall Ireland

THE MAJORITY OF TDs and Senators want to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, but Fine Gael’s unclear position means many of its elected representatives are remaining silent.

A survey of Oireachtas members, carried out by TheJournal.ie this week, has found that 60% are in favour of repealing the amendment which enshrines the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother in the Constitution, and effectively outlaws abortion in Ireland.

A total of 21% are not in favour of repeal, 2% said they don’t know and 17% gave another response. Many of these cited the complexity of the issue and insisted it was not a question that had a ‘Yes or No’ answer.

A total of 123 of the 224 Oireachtas members we contacted responded to the survey – a response rate of 55%.

  • How did your TD and/or Senator respond to our survey? Check here.

However, just 32% or 27 out of 85 members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party participated in the survey which asked politicians:

Are you personally in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment?

Of those Fine Gael TDs and Senators who did respond, 9 said they were in favour of repeal, 8 were against, 2 said they didn’t know and 8 gave another answer.

screenshot.1435323580.24804 Source: www.thejournal.ie

The party has not yet formulated a position on whether or not to campaign for a referendum on the 8th Amendment at the next election. A spokesperson for the Taoiseach Enda Kenny articulated Fine Gael’s current position:

The Government has made clear that there will be no further referendums during the remainder of this term. Each party will be bringing forward their own proposals ahead of the next general election. The Fine Gael party has yet to do so.

The decision to legislate for the X Case two years ago caused huge upheaval in Fine Gael. Several TDs and Senators, including Lucinda Creighton, quit over what they believed was a broken election 2011 promise NOT to legislate for abortion in circumstances where there is a risk to the life of the mother, including suicide.

Many Fine Gael TDs and Senators who we contacted this week were not prepared to discuss the issue.

What about the other parties?

Elsewhere, the survey of Fianna Fáil TDs and Senators showed they are broadly against repealing the 8th Amendment with some TDs insisting it it was too complex an issue to give a Yes or No answer to.

At its most recent Ard Fheis, party members voted to maintain the Fianna Fáil position NOT to repeal the 8th Amendment.

screenshot.1435323759.66019 Source: www.thejournal.ie

Labour and Sinn Féin are both in favour of repealing the 8th Amendment after passing motions at their most recent conference/Ard Fheis.

However our survey found that not every member of each party agrees with that policy.

Among the independents and smaller parties there is strong support for repealing the 8th Amendment. United Left deputy Clare Daly has consistently put forward legislation in the area as has Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger.

Independent TD Michael Lowry told us he hasn’t considered the issue as it is not on the political agenda at the moment. His fellow Tipperary deputy Mattie McGrath was among those who said he was not in favour of repeal.

Amongst Renua, whose founding members left Fine Gael over the abortion issue, only Senator Mary Ann-O’Brien said she was in favour of repeal.

Its leader Lucinda Creighton has previously told this website she would favour a referendum on the 8th Amendment – but not its repeal:

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

The amendment, Article 40.3.3, was added to the Constitution following a referendum on 7 September 1983.

It reads: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

Explainer: What is the 8th Amendment?

Read all TheJournal.ie’s 8th Amendment survey stories > 

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