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"I actually struggle with this myself": Taoiseach quizzed on Eighth Amendment on TV3 couch

Kenny said he had listened very carefully to the “courageous people” who had spoken of their experiences with unborn children.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY spoke of his “struggle” with the abortion issue in one of his final media appearances of the 2016 election campaign.

In an otherwise unremarkable interview (he stressed the need to ‘keep the recovery going’ within a few seconds of beginning his first answer) the Taoiseach took several questions on the Eighth Amendment – even insisting on speaking about the issue as presenter Mark Cagney attempted to move on to other topics.

The issue hasn’t featured strongly in the campaign to date – and only one question on the contentious amendment was asked over the three televised leaders’ debates.

Kenny, reiterating his current stance on the issue, insisted we couldn’t “just change” the amendment, which was passed by referendum in 1983 and enshrines the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn in the Constitution.

He said that Fine Gael, if re-elected to government, would set up a forum similar to the Constitutional Convention to consider the matter. An all-party committee would also examine expert advice, in a parallel measure, he said – adding that the process needed to be de-politicised.

‘Courageous people’

Using more emotive language, he said he had listened very carefully to the “courageous people” who had spoken of their experiences with unborn children.

“I actually struggle with this myself,” he added.

But as Cagney attempted to move on to the next issue, he continued talking about the Eighth, answering follow-up questions from co-host Sinead Desmond.

He said he had been “moved by the tears of the Magdalen women” – and that he had also been moved by the “examples given to me in respect of marriage equality”.

He added:

Some of the experiences of women who have come forward here, who’ve been very courageous… It is a profound issue and it’s not one to be sort of spoken of glibly in politics to say ‘let’s have a referendum’.

Speaking last month, Kenny denied there was a rift in the party on the issue. In response to Leo Varadkar’s remarks that abortion should be allowed if there is significant risk to a woman’s long-term physical health and not just in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, he said the health minister was entitled to his opinion on the subject.

Read: Liveblog: The final day of election campaigning

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