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14 TDs in Dáil chamber as Bríd Smith produces packet of abortion pills

The Dáil is this evening discussing an AAA/PBP Bill calling for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

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THE DÁIL IS this evening debating an AAA/PBP Bill calling for the repeal of the eighth amendment to the Constitution.

Speaking in favour of the bill AAA/PBP TDs Ruth Coppinger and Bríd Smith were first to address the chamber.

In making her speech, Smith produced a packet of abortion pills and said that women in Ireland could still face a sentence of 14 years for using those pills.

“You could fill two wings in Mountjoy with women in the gallery who have used these pills probably,” she said.

You could arrest me for having it, but you know if you dared to implement it you’d bring down hellfire and brimstone.

Coppinger meanwhile called the Government TDs who are to support a counter-motion to suppress the Bill “cowards”.

That counter-motion is expected to in effect set the issue of the Eighth Amendment to one side until it has been discussed by the Citizens’ Assembly convened to that end.

The Citizens’ Assembly is due to present its conclusions no later than May of next year.

Smith also drew attention to the low number of TDs that were present in the chamber for the debate as she rose to speak.

As she began there were 14 TDs present in the Dáil, which rose to 17 ten minutes later – the six AAA/PBP TDs, Minister for Health Simon Harris, Kate O’Connell (Fine Gael), Finian McGrath (Independent Alliance), Jan O’Sullivan (Labour), Louise O’Reilly and Denise Mitchell (Sinn Féin), Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil), Séamus Healy and Michael Harty (Independents), Joan Collins (Independents4Change), and Catherine Martin (Greens).

The issue of low numbers of TDs attending Dáil debates has raised its head before, most recently with regard to a debate on mental health in April of this year.

TDs will often be absent from the chamber as legislation is being discussed apart from when they are required to speak themselves.

Read: Coppinger blasts ‘sell-out independents’ after Government adopts unified stance on abortion bill

Read: As it happened: Enda faced questions on strikes, public pay, and what exactly false imprisonment means

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