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'This is a time for political courage not political cowardice' - Zappone calls for leadership on the Eighth

Zappone made reference to those, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who have not spoken.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

CHILDREN’S MINISTER KATHERINE Zappone has called for leadership in the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking during debates on the report of the Committee on the Eighth Amendment tonight, Zappone took aim at those in the Dáil who have yet to make their views known on the issue.

TDs have been debating the adoption of the report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment since last week.

Speaking tonight, Zappone made reference to those, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who have not spoken about how they feel on the issue.

“People across the country are looking to these houses, and to the Dáil, to provide leadership on a human rights issue, where up until now there has been none.

This is a time for political courage not political cowardice.

“I welcome that many Deputies have chosen to participate in these statements in this house and beyond.

“This is too important an issue for politicians to shirk away from their responsibilities.

“In the coming weeks the public have a right to hear the view of every member of this house.”

Zappone went on to say that she respects those who hold opposing views and said that broadcasters and venues should not be afraid of taking the subject on.

“As public representatives we must ensure that those who shout the loudest do not hijack this moment and rob the people of Ireland of the discussion which is so badly overdue.

“It is wrong that hotels, community centres and other venues feel unable to host speaking engagements or debates related to the forthcoming referendum because of health and safety concerns for their staff.

“Such intimidation, abuse and lack of respect has no place in a modern open democracy.

“It is wrong too that some media outlets, in particular broadcasters, should feel anxious about discussing this topic because of fears about the regulations on balance and a deluge of complaints from either or both sides.

“Stifling the debate does not serve anyone’s best interest.”

She added that she believed in repeal of the amendment and called for a replacement of the 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

“I believe that after repeal we will need to replace the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 with a new piece of law, designed with the experiences and needs of pregnant people at its heart.

“This new law should maximise reproductive freedom.

“It should never be a crime to have an abortion, and doctors should be freed from providing medical care in what Rhona Mahony called ‘the shadow of a custodial sentence’.

“If there is medical malpractice that should be dealt with by the Medical Council; if there is a non-consensual abortion that is an assault.

“Criminalising abortion only hurts women and stigmatises their decisions.”

The debates will continue through tomorrow.

Read: At least eight Fianna Fáil reps hold a meeting about Micheal Martin’s pro-repeal speech

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