TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has told the Dáil that he has been branded a murderer and has been receiving letters written in blood, plastic foetuses and other items as he answered questions on abortion legislation this morning.
Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Kenny was asked by independent TD Mattie McGrath if he would listen to the arguments against legislation for abortion in circumstances where there is a risk to life of a woman, including the risk of suicide.
Kenny insisted that the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, which the Cabinet has been discussing today, is about saving lives and said he understood the matter is a sensitive issue.
“I am now being branded by personnel around the country as being a murderer – that I am going to have on my soul the death of 20 million babies,” he told the Dáil.
“I am getting medals, scapulars, plastic foetuses, letters written in blood, telephone calls all over the systems and it’s not confined to me.”
Kenny said that while everyone in the country was entitled to have their say he was a Taoiseach for all the people of Ireland.
He said he is a Taoiseach “who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic Taoiseach” and that he was “proud” to lead a government that he insisted would act on its constitutional responsibilities to legislate for the landmark X Case.
“This is about saving lives, not ending them,” Kenny concluded with a smattering of applause breaking out on the government benches as he sat down.
Also during Leaders’ Questions this morning Kenny insisted that the government could not intervene in the decision by Permanent TSB to impose losses on members of its defined benefit pension scheme.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had raised the issue, saying that some workers were facing a 50 to 70 per cent loss in their pension as a result of cuts implemented on foot of the Mercer report into bankers’ pay. Kenny said it was a case that is currently before the Labour Court.
He also ruled out a reversal of the respite carers’ grant cut which was cut by €325 in the last budget, telling Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams: “It was and has been a necessary step as part of this country’s economic renewal.”