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Taoiseach gives first response to Citizen's Assembly vote, says committee now being set up

Kenny commended the Citizen’s Assembly’s chairperson, Ms Justice Laffoy on her work.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking to the media today.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking to the media today.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY gave his first indication following the Citizen’s Assembly vote at the weekend that a referendum on abortion will be held in Ireland.

Kenny said if there is any change to the Constitution it will of course require a referendum, adding that there must be clear legislation to support whatever referendum result is delivered.

In 2015, the Taoiseach said there would not be a referendum on the Eighth amendment “in the lifetime of this government” – however, since the establishment of the Citizen’s Assembly Kenny’s go-to line to those who ask for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment has been – what would you replace it with?

Citizen’s Assembly vote 

The Citizen’s Assembly have now answered that question for the Taoiseach by voting that the Oireachtas should be given the power to legislate for the termination of pregnancy and this should replace, not repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

It also recommended a provision that the Oireachtas must legislate for abortion, and that terminations should be allowed without restriction up to the 12th week of pregnancy, amongst other things.

“At the end of the day, when people go to vote in a referendum they vote for either yes or no – so the important element there is the legislation that underpins that, what that means and what the consequences of voting either yes or no for that piece of legislation would mean. A lot of discussion will take place around that in the time ahead,” said the Taoiseach.

Since the result, a number of ministers including Frances Fitzgerald and Simon Harris have said they would like to see a referendum next year.

Kenny told TheJournal.ie this afternoon that it is now “a matter of explaining to people what were the issues the Citizen’s Assembly deliberated upon, what decisions did they made and what might those decisions actually mean”.

He commended the work of the Assembly’s chairperson, Ms Justice Laffoy, stating that she conducted her role “expertly, very competently and very professionally”.

“We owe her a debt of gratitude,” he said.

He also paid tribute to the 99 people who served on the Assembly and said many of them have told him they found it to be a “wonderful experience”.

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Setting up the committee

The Taoiseach said the Assembly’s report will now be sent to the special Oireachtas committee

“I hope we can get set up in the next week or fortnight as agreed with 20 members of the Dáil and Seanad and they will receive that report and then we can move on to having the report debated and discussed,” he said.

Many of the parties such as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have already asked their party members to submit applications of interest to sit on the committee. The deadline for applications is understood to be tomorrow.

Read: After huge vote to push for change to Ireland’s abortion laws, the Assembly is deciding what they should look like>

Read: Bishop says new maternity hospital should obey rules of Catholic Church>

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