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Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly and leader Joan Burton /Photocall Ireland
trouble ahead

Labour is about to face ANOTHER headache over abortion

A bill to repeal the 8th Amendment will come before the Dáil next month.

THE LABOUR PARTY will have to vote down another attempt to force a referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment next month when the issue comes before the Dáil.

Socialist Party TDs Ruth Coppinger and Joe Higgins are tabling a bill to force a referendum to repeal the controversial amendment, which enshrines the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother in the Constitution, and effectively outlaws abortion in Ireland.

It is due for debate in the Dáil on Friday week and there will be a vote the following Tuesday, 12 May.

Despite Labour officially changing party policy at its conference in February to campaign for repeal at the next election, a spokesperson confirmed that TDs would again be opposing the attempts to force a referendum.

Labour has consistently argued that it has no mandate to hold a referendum in this Dáil term. However the party’s TDs, some of whom went missing for a Dáil vote on abortion last year, are likely to come under pressure to support the bill.

Already, Wicklow TD Anne Ferris lost the Labour whip in February after supporting United Left deputy Clare Daly’s efforts to legislate for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

Her intentions on the Coppinger/Higgins bill are not clear and she did not respond a request for comment yesterday.

‘Don’t send women packing’

The ROSA Ireland group will hold a banner outside Labour’s party headquarters in central Dublin later today. The banner will read: “LABOUR – Don’t send women packing. Repeal the 8th”.

ROSA’s Rita Harrold explained: “We want to put some pressure on the Labour party because, not only do the vast majority of people want to change it, but they voted on it at their own conference recently.

They have this opportunity to support abortion rights and we put it up to them to support it. They are not going to be forgiven for continuing to force people to travel.

At its conference in Killarney earlier this year, Labour members voted to campaign for repeal of the 8th Amendment and include the commitment to hold referendum in its manifesto at the next election.

However, Labour Women failed in an effort to make the holding of a referendum a red line issue in any programme for government involving the party.

Speaking to prior to the conference, junior minister Áodhan Ó Ríordáin explained why the difficulty with repealing the 8th was determining what replaces it:


Read: Now this Fine Gael TD wants to repeal the 8th Amendment (but he’s still ‘very pro-life’)

Read: Sinn Féin votes for abortion to be allowed in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities

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