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A pro-choice protest in Dublin Sam Boal

'Unclear' if referendum to repeal Eighth Amendment would pass - Enda

The Taoiseach said a citizens’ assembly, similar to the Constitutional Convention, will examine the issue within six months if Fine Gael is re-elected.

ENDA KENNY HAS said it’s unclear if a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment would pass if it were held now.

The Taoiseach said that if Fine Gael is re-elected to government it would, within six months, set up a forum similar to the Constitutional Convention to consider the matter.

The controversial amendment, passed by referendum in 1983, enshrines the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn in the Constitution and effectively outlaws abortion in Ireland.

Kenny was speaking after the Irish Independent reported yesterday that just 15 of Fine Gael’s 67 TDs said they would favour repeal of the amendment.

Kenny has already said that his party’s TDs and Senators will be given a free vote on the issue, including ministers, should it come before the Dáil and Seanad.


Kenny said his personal view is that “you can’t just remove an article from the Constitution”. He added:

You have to have the support of the people and I think if that were put to the people today the result would be unclear. So we need to look at the question of all of these things in detail.

“I’ve set out that process which will be sensitive and empathetic and comprehensive and, after that, look at the question of an Oireachtas committee dealing with that, with the experts and seeking can consensus be arrived at.

“There are very, very difficult situations in respect of fatal foetal abnormality and incest and rape and obviously these are human stories and they need to be considered in that fashion.”

Programme.338 copy Enda Kenny and Joan Burton outside Government Buildings yesterday Sam Boal Sam Boal

At a later press conference with the Tánaiste, Kenny said he is “loathe” to put a date on when a referendum might be held.

But he said “it will happen during the course of the next couple of years, in the lifetime of the next government” if the coalition is re-elected.

Labour leader Joan Burton, whose party has committed to repealing the Eighth Amendment, said she favoured using the Constitutional Convention process to consider the matter again before it goes before an Oireachtas committee.

“I would have thought it would take a period of a year, a year-and-a-half,” she said.

She added: “I’ve said before, and we had a lot of discussions in our party down the years about the Eighth Amendment, we were opposed to it being included in the Constitution in the first place.”

“So, we’ve had a long standing position that it doesn’t best serve the interests of women or indeed of the wider Irish society.”

Read: Abortion bill hasn’t led to more women “claiming suicidality” to get a termination

Read: Enda promises action on abortion within six months of re-election

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