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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019
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TDs from AAA-PBP wear 'Repeal' sweatshirts in Dáil

The six were shown on Oireachtas cameras wearing the attire during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon.

Updated at 3.30pm 

THE SIX MEMBERS of the AAA-PBP turned up to the Dáil today wearing black ‘Repeal’ sweatshirts, to call for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

The six were shown on Oireachtas cameras wearing the attire during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon.

aaa Source: Screengrab/Oireachtas

Gino Kenny, Mick Barry, Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd-Barrett, and Bríd Smith sat behind or alongside their colleague Ruth Coppinger, who took the opportunity to press the Taoiseach this afternoon on a referendum on the Eighth.

“Will you make sure it’s a referendum to repeal and not amend the Eighth Amendment?” she implored.

Responding, Enda Kenny said that it was not a black and white issue, although “the t-shirts might be”.

He said the issue would be dealt with by the upcoming Citizens’ Assembly, which is due to meet next month.

He continued:

I want to assure you that there is nothing being cooked up here. It’s a very straightforward democratic exercise… I look forward to the engagement.

Fine Gael TD Ciaran Cannon questioned whether the wearing of emblems in the chamber was allowed, in the wake of the exchange.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said that it wasn’t forbidden per se, but that “party political” emblems shouldn’t be shown.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie after today’s session, Bríd Smith said she and her colleagues had decided to wear the Repeal sweatshirts as “it was the first opportunity to politically put it on the agenda” in the wake of last weekend’s pro-choice rally in Dublin.

The march, the Dublin South-Central TD said, had had “quite an impact on the country” and indicates “the desire and the will” of people to campaign for change on the issue.

Black and white ‘Repeal’ t-shirts and sweatshirts had become “almost the logo of the movement” in recent months, she said – adding that they had been “printed and reprinted” and were selling out all the time.

“We tried to be as inoffensive as possible,” she said of the decision to wear the campaign attire.

“We did feel that we’ve an onus as people representing this mass movement to put pressure,” on the government, she said. Smith declined to say whether the AAA-PBP TDs planned any repeat of this afternoon’s action.

The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act 1983 was effected after a referendum that year which asked Irish people to vote on the State’s abortion laws.

It acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, equating it with the mother’s right to life.

The Cabinet approved plans for a Citizens’ Assembly to address abortion and other issues in June, with the 99 member group due to hold its first meeting on 15 October.

The Assembly will begin by discussing the Eighth Amendment, and will also consider topics like Ireland’s ageing population, fixed-term parliaments and climate change.

Red C Polling will be tasked with selecting 99 members of the public – plus 99 substitutes – who are willing to act as members of the assembly.

Read: Polling firm to pick ‘diverse’ group of 99 people to sit on Citizens’ Assembly on Eighth Amendment

Read: No tender issued yet to seek company to set up Citizens’ Assembly on Eighth Amendment

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