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Danny Healy-Rae criticised for 'vile comments' in the Dáil about abortion

The Independent TD had himself been criticising Minister Simon Harris.

COMMENTS BY DANNY HEALY-Rae TD made in the Dáil last night have been labelled as “vile” by campaigners who help parents in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

The Independent TD was speaking late last night as the Dáil debated the bill that would pave the way for a summer referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

As part of his contribution, Healy-Rae criticised Health Minister Simon Harris for what he said were “terrible” comments.

Harris is proposing the referendum that, if passed, would remove the constitutional right to life of the unborn.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

“Minister Harris, I was listening to the radio one evening recently and you came out on the radio and you said that it was terrible to think that a mother was coming from abroad with their young one in the boot of the car,” Healy-Rae said.

I don’t know what you meant by it minister, but I surely know that the baby, the little dead baby, didn’t feel very loved. And it didn’t make a difference that the baby was in the boot of the car in London, or the north of Ireland or the south of Ireland. The unborn baby was dead at that stage anyway. So I was very hurt when I heard you saying something like that.

In responding to Healy Rae’s comments, Harris said that he was sorry if he “offended or upset” the deputy but that he had been referring to the story of a couple he met who were told their unborn baby would not survive.

“I was telling the story of a couple who I met and had sat with them, who had desperately wanted a child, had desperately wanted a child. And had been told that they were pregnant, and were so overjoyed to be pregnant and were told that their baby would not live.”

They did not want to ‘kill their baby or take their baby’s life’, or any of those crude or vulgar terms. They wanted that baby so badly, and the baby wasn’t going to live.

People were coming up to that pregnant mother saying, ‘is it a boy or is it a girl’. And they knew that baby wasn’t going to live. It was either going to die in the woman’s womb or soon afterwards.

“They had to go to the UK, that was the decision they made, and they had to bring their baby back from the UK in the boot of a car in the coffin,” Harris added.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Following the comments in the Dáil, advocacy group Terminations for Medical Reasons Ireland criticised Healy-Rae said that such examples as outlined by the minister are common.

“Tonight while Danny Healy-Rae was making his vile comments in the Dail chamber about us, we were trying to offer comfort to a very distressed woman given the worst possible news; her baby will die,” the group tweeted.

TFMR Ireland went on to detail that the woman was told after her 12 week scan that the baby would not survive and that she feared she would have to continue with her pregnancy due to an inability to afford the cost of a termination in the UK.

Ultimately, TFMR Ireland said that the woman received support from the UK-based Abortion Support Network.

The debate on referendum bill itself was completed after midnight last night it could be voted on today before it passes to committee stage.

Read: Half of voters are in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment >

Read: Broadcast guidelines updated ahead of the Eighth Amendment referendum >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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