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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 30 September, 2014

Fianna Fáil to discuss abortion bill after lengthy Fine Gael meeting

Fine Gael’s weekly parliamentary party meeting saw over five hours of intense discussion on the draft abortion bill.

Fianna Fail affirmed its stance as a pro-life party at the weekend - but its members may be given a free vote on the X Case bill.
Fianna Fail affirmed its stance as a pro-life party at the weekend - but its members may be given a free vote on the X Case bill.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL TDs and Senators will today discuss the party’s stance on the Government’s proposed abortion bill, after an intense five-hour meeting of Fine Gael representatives last night.

The weekly meeting of the FG parliamentary party was the longest in memory – easily outlasting those of mid-2010 when Enda Kenny survived a leadership heave – with many members openly challenging the inclusion of a clause on suicide.

Though the tone of the meeting is thought to have been less fiery than previous encounters, it was nonetheless fraught – with some TDs insisting they could not vote in favour of clauses recognising the risk of suicide as grounds to end an otherwise viable pregnancy.

Fianna Fáil’s stance on abortion was copperfastened at its Árd Fheis last weekend, when members backed a series of motions on the issue – including an affirmation that the party is fundamentally ‘pro-life’ and opposed plans to legislate for the risk of suicide.

However, it has been suggested that the position of TDs themselves may not be so clear cut – and with the legislation in no danger of falling, due to the massive ranks of Fine Gael and Labour TDs, members could be offered a free vote.

This could prompt some internal divisions, however, given how recently the party affirmed a pro-life stance – and because the government’s majority in the Seanad is much smaller, and may require the support of opposition parties to be carried if FG senators oppose it in significant numbers.

It would present a political opportunity to ensure internal harmony within Fianna Fáil, however – particularly as its chief rival party faces the defection of a dozen or more members.

Read: Committee to decide if advocacy groups should attend abortion law hearings

More: Irish abortion bill ‘worse than Britain’s 1967 Act’

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