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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 21 April 2021

Abortion is becoming a general election battleground

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everyone’s talking about…

The 8th Amendment, and whether the next government will move to repeal it.

19/1/2013 Pro Life Rallies Mairead Ryan pictured here in 2013 at a Pro Choice counter demonstration on Merrion Square in Dublin as various Pro Life groups rallied on the other side of the Square Source: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

Any doubts on how much the topic of abortion will feature in the upcoming general election have well and truly been put to rest.

The Labour Party is gearing up for it to become a key element of their campaign, with a referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment looking like it will become a red-line issue on who they would consider coalition with.

Yesterday the party’s Labour Women wing launched the general scheme of a Bill they intend to replace the controversial ban on terminations with. The group themselves described it as “conservative”.

And last night Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced that Fine Gael TDs and Senators will be allowed a free vote, should the issue come before the Dáil.

Kenny’s announcement comes after a report in the Irish Independent that the party is becoming increasingly fractious on the issue, with James Reilly, Leo Varadkar, and Frances Fitzgerald leaning towards repealing or revisiting the legislation in some way.

Sinn Féin, the Anti-Austerity Alliance, Social Democrats, and Greens all intend to hold a referendum on the subject if elected to government, but the question still remains of what would replace the 8th.

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton previously told this website that despite her own pro-life views, she believes a referendum would be a helpful thing.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

And Fianna Fáil? Not a chance of a referendum right now. The party could end up swimming against the tide in debates on the issue in the coming months.

Micheál Martin told reporters in September: “We’ve said collectively, as a political party, that we would not initiate moves to repeal the 8th.”

The agenda

  • The Dáil starts at 9.30am with questions on the Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation portfolio.
  • From 10.45am legislation ranging from the Child Care Bill to one dealing with burglary will be discussed.
  • Sparks will fly at midday for Leaders’ Questions.
  • Topical Issues will be heard at 7.35pm.
  • After Order of Business at 11.30am, the Seanad will look at a social housing policy directive, Fempi legislation, and the Legal Services Regulation Bill.
  • The Minister for Health will pop in at 4pm for statements on emergency department waiting times.
  • The Health committee is looking at establishing independent advocacy services for health service users from 9.30am, with HSE director general Tony O’Brien dropping in at 11.30am.
  • The French ambassador will discuss the recent terror attacks in France with the EU Affairs committee at 2pm.

Inside Leinster House

The previously noted cabin fever at the banking inquiry is continuing. Here’s a flavour of what the final report might contain.

What the others are saying

  • The Times (Ireland Edition) reports that the European Commission is being called on to introduce legislation that would prevent member states competing on corporate tax rates, which could spell the end for Ireland’s 12.5%.
  • The Irish Times leads with their latest Ipsos MRBI poll, which shows Fine Gael up 2%. The paper also reports that the banking inquiry will recommend ‘radical’ changes to legislation that covers investigations like this.
  • A Fianna Fáil plan to set up a cross-border crime agency will be voted down by the government, the Irish Independent reports, as it has been made ‘redundant’ by new agreements with Stormont.
  • Legal advice provided to government on the IBRC inquiry will not be published despite requests from TDs, according to the Irish Examiner.

In case you missed it

Good day for..

Fine Gael. The party is experiencing some rumblings from the backbenches, but today’s poll result will come as welcome reading for Enda.

Bad day for…

Labour. The coalition partner continues to flounder in the opinion polls.

On the Twitter machine

Any political rivalries can easily to be put to one side when it comes down to getting a lift.

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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