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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 8 December, 2019
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Will anyone else in Labour be as bold or brave as Anne Ferris?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everybody’s talking about…

Labour’s official party policy is to repeal of the 8th Amendment and many of the party’s TDs are pro-choice, including Anne Ferris. Today she will vote against the government on a bill to allow for abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormality and automatically be expelled from the parliamentary party.

Labour feels it cannot offer a free vote to TDs as its manifesto contained no commitment on this particular issue and therefore it has no mandate to push for a referendum to repeal the 8th. In addition a free vote would not go down well with Fine Gael which held the line on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill nearly two years ago and lost four TDs as a result.

Cabinet Meetings on Water Campaigns Joan Burton is facing resistance from within her own ranks to the government's decision to oppose Clare Daly's bill. Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

From a political perspective all of this is understandable. But it’s another example of the cruel nature of the whip system. It has its uses, it’s important for stability, but on such sensitive social issues such as this it would be nice to think the parties could give some ground.

Fianna Fáil is allowing a free vote on today’s bill. In some ways it’s ironic that the party so often associated with all that is bad about Irish politics is taking a more nuanced approach in this instance although some may argue that too is for political reasons.

For Labour the question now is whether anyone else will join Ferris. This morning, that’s far from clear.

The agenda 

  • 10.30am: The Cabinet meets this morning at Government Buildings. 
  • Noon: The chair designate of Dublin Airport Authority, Pádraig Ó Ríordáin, is before the Transport Committee. 
  • 2pm: UCD economist Colm McCarthy is before the EU Affairs Committee to talk about the possibility of Britain leaving the EU. 
  • 2.30pm: Labour holds a briefing for its TDs to explain why the government must oppose Clare Daly’s fatal foetal abnormality bill. 
  • 3.15pm: Enda Kenny gets his first Leaders’ Questions outing of the week.
  • Sometime after 5pm: The vote on Daly’s bill will take place in the Dáil. 
  • 6.30pm: Michael Noonan briefs members of the Finance Committee on the agenda for this week’s meeting of European finance ministers. 
  • 7.30pm: Fianna Fail has this week’s private members’ time and it’s all about childcare

Inside Leinster House

Our roving reporter Daragh Brophy was the heart of all the Paul Murphy shenanigans yesterday…

The Socialists/AAA organised an ad-hoc press conference at Buswell’s Hotel, to respond to Paul Murphy’s arrest. Clearly, they weren’t happy having to fork-out for the room… As they wrapped up, TD Ruth Coppinger was overheard telling her fellow party members to take the hotel pens with them. “We pay Buswell’s enough,” she said.

AAA Anti Austerity Alliance press conferen Source: Leah Farrell/Photocall Ireland

What the others are saying 

  • Taoiseach Enda Kenny will NOT march in New York’s St Patrick’s Day parade this year amid controversy over the ban on LGBT group marching, the Irish Daily Mail reports. 
  • Several papers report that gardaí expect to make dozens more arrests in relation to the Jobstown protests last November after four men were held yesterday, including Socialist TD Paul Murphy. 

In case you missed it 

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

On the tweet machine 

Paul Murphy is just LOL-tastic

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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