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Not now

'If you vote No, abortion will not stop, we'll just export it to England'

John Halligan has appealed to men, in particular, to back the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

The Independent Alliance campaigning on Grafton Street today.
The Independent Alliance campaigning on Grafton Street today.
Image: Órla Ryan/

THREE MEMBERS OF the Independent Alliance have said they believe the Eighth Amendment will be repealed on Friday.

Transport Minister Shane Ross and junior ministers John Halligan and Finian McGrath were canvassing for a Yes vote on Dublin’s Grafton Street today.

Speaking to reporters, Halligan said: “We would make a point that by voting No on Friday you will not stop abortion in Ireland, we will continue to have abortion in Ireland and all we will do is export the problem over to England.

“And if the No vote is carried, the chances of this being revisited again, it could be 10, 15, 20 years – by then hundreds of thousands more women will have left our shores. This is an Irish problem, we have to deal with it in Ireland, deal with it ourselves.”

All three men expressed confidence that the vote will pass but said the outcome, regardless of whether it’s a Yes or No, will not destabilise the Fine Gael-led minority government, which the Independent Alliance supports.

Halligan noted that not all members of the alliance back a Yes vote “so it was important for the three of us to be seen together”.

He made a plea to the men of Ireland, in particular, to vote Yes.

Some men may not see this as an issue affecting men but it does, it affects families. It affects families who have fatal foetal abnormalities, it affects families if somebody has been raped.

“We will make an appeal to men – you have a big say in this, make sure you come out and vote for compassion and vote for the right of women to do what they think they should do with their bodies.”

‘That’s what democracy is about’

When asked if TDs and Senators who vote No in the referendum should back the government’s abortion legislation if and when it comes before the Oireachtas, Halligan said: “I think they’re obliged by the people of Ireland to back it, that’s what democracy is about, that’s what the referendum is about … Are they saying that they will not uphold the wishes of the people?

It will have to be debated, people will have to have their say, but I would hope that people would not try and hold up the legislation.

“If the people vote Yes, everybody in the Dáil, including those who vote No, will have to come to terms with the fact that the majority of people in Ireland have made a democratic decision, and get the legislation through as fast as possible.”

Ross added: “If anybody was to try and filibuster this legislation, it would be really totally irresponsible. It’s very serious legislation, it certainly needs serious examination, but the idea that it should be delayed deliberately would be utterly wrong. I don’t anticipate that happening.”

McGrath said he stands over his previous prediction that a Yes vote will carry 60-40, adding that while some people assume many undecided voters will end up voting No, there are “a lot of silent Yes voters out there”.

We need to win this debate, I think the debate is going very well but the game is not over. It’s a very, very difficult few days ahead of us.

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“If we can get it over the line, I think the legislation will be dealt with very quickly and very comprehensively because we’ve been talking about this issue for 34 years and it’s time now to stop the talk and get on and legislate.”

Ross said he believes the outcome of the referendum could be very close, citing an urban-rural divide in terms of where people stand on the issue.

“Essentially what matters is that we win the vote, it doesn’t matter if it’s carried by a percent or 20%, the people will decide,” Halligan added.

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Órla Ryan

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