SEVERAL FIANNA FÁIL Senators have condemned their colleagues Jim Walsh and Brian Ó Domhnaill in the wake of their controversial and graphic contributions to the Seanad debate on the abortion bill.
The upper house has tonight passed the committee stage of the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill by 33 votes to 14 meaning it now moves to report and final stages next week.
Walsh graphically described methods of abortion during a speech to the chamber earlier this week while Ó Domhnaill said that allowing terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality could deprive “future Special Olympics athletes of being born”.
Their party colleague in the upper house, Averil Power, condemned the language the pair used, saying it was “incredibly insensitive, deliberately offensive, and disgusting.”
Today, Labour senator Marie Moloney emotionally described her own miscarriage and appealed to senators to use less graphic terms, saying the “phraseology being used here today is absolutely disgraceful”.
Power told TheJournal.ie this evening: “We all have responsibilities and the lack of sensitivity for a woman who has been through a miscarriage was dreadful. I’m really, really upset about it.”
Her sentiments were shared by the Fianna Fáil leader in the Seanad, Darragh O’Brien, who said earlier during the debate that the language used had been “graphic in the extreme” and showed a “distinct lack of compassion”.
His colleague, Thomas Byrne tweeted:
Power said she intends to speak to O’Brien and the Fianna Fáil whip Diarmuid Wilson about the language used by Ó Domhnaill and Walsh but admitted this was unique situation which she had not been in before.
“Darragh has made the position clear, he has spoken for majority of the group and there’s no question that Fianna Fáil tolerates these remarks, or thinks they are appropriate.”
“Myself, Darragh and Thomas have made it clear that we completely disassociate ourselves with this,” she added.
Earlier, Fine Gael senator Imelda Henry called on Fianna Fáíl leader Micheál Martin to condemn the behaviour of “some of his party’s senators”.
She said: “A number of Fianna Fáil Senators have resorted to using shock tactics, deeply disturbing language, baseless anecdotes and complete mistruths to further their own agenda during the debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill in recent days.”
Henry said the senators were not representing the women of Ireland and said there was no excuse for their “disrespectful behaviour”.
Tonight, the Seanad passed committee stage of the bill after it was guillotined before all amendments could be heard. Further debate on the report and final stage of the bill is scheduled to begin next Monday.