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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 17 February, 2020

Róisín Shortall has pop at "arrogant" Government

The former junior minister said it was clear the Government would brook no Opposition changes to abortion legislation from the outset.

Róisín Shortall and James Reilly in happier times.
Róisín Shortall and James Reilly in happier times.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

ERSTWHILE MINISTER OF State Róisín Shortall hit out at the Government’s handling of the abortion legislation being debated in the Dáil this evening.

Shortall, tabling amendment 145 to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy BIll 2013, said that the fact that there were 155 (out of 165) amendments put forward by the Opposition showed the work all TDs had put into scrutinising the legislation.

Despite this sincerity, she said, the Government had given “not a jot” of co-operation to consider any of the amendments. This, she claimed, showed the arrogance of the Government parties.

She referred to the vote on amendment 118 – which aimed to permit a woman to bring someone in with her for support when she appeared before the review board evaluating a call for a termination – and the fact that the Dáil had been forced to vote on it at all. It showed, she said, that the Bill was “hammered out somewhere else and there would be no changes”.

As her former colleague in the Department of Health, Minister James Reilly, listened, Shortall also referred to the sitting of the Dáil until 5am this morning. She called it a “shambles” and said that it had “brought the house into disrepute”.

Shortall resigned her Labour Party membership – and her post as Minister of State at the Department of Health – almost a year ago in a dispute with Reilly over the locations of primary care centres.

Read the very pointed letter, secured by the day after her resignation, in which Reilly had responded to Shortall’s questions about the allocation of the centres.

When asked about her resignation just after the event, Reilly had commented to “Pressure’s only for tyres”.

He also claimed he had not been given advance warning of Shortall’s intention to resign her post.

Another Minister for State lost the party whip this evening – Lucinda Creighton voted against the Government on an amendment to the abortion legislation. She immediately lost the Fine Gael party whip and will lose her junior ministry in European Affairs as a result.

In full: Róisín Shortall’s resignation statement>
James Reilly on Shortall’s departure: ‘Pressure’s only for tyres’>
Lucinda Creighton: I believe I made the correct decision>
Paschal Donohue favourite to replace Creighton>

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