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Taoiseach defends marathon Dáil sitting, says he's "hopeful" of a final vote today

TDs will be back in the Dáil to discuss the Protection of Life Bill at 5pm, with the session to be adjourned by midnight if not concluded before then.

THE TAOISEACH SAYS the Dáil will sit tomorrow if necessary to deal with the contentious Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, but he’s “hopeful” a final vote will he held as part of today’s proceedings.

Enda Kenny was speaking following criticism of the Government’s decision to hold an all-night session last night to debate a wide range of amendments. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had slammed the move as ‘farcical’.

Answering reporters’ questions in Cork this morning, he conceded they could have started the debate a little earlier, but added that it was “no harm that it went on until 5am”, saying there had been “good contributions from all sides of the house”:

I really don’t want to extend the Dáil sessions right until the end of July – people have had a very long season as it is. But I am required to have a number of other pieces of legislation go through

The Taoiseach indicated he was hopeful faster progress could be made on the abortion legislation today as the “main issue” of suicide was dealt with last night.

Fielding in for the Taoiseach at leader’s questions this afternoon, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said that late sittings were a “normal part of parliament” and happen “less frequent” then they have in the past.  ”The commitment of this government is to give absolute maximum debating time possible for this legislation”, he added.

In a fraught Dáil session, where Ceann Comhiarle Seán Barrett struggled too maintain discipline, Martin accused the Government of having a “‘contempt for parliament’” by informing TDs of last night’s 5am extension by way of a text message at 9.57pm.

TDs will be back in the chamber to discuss the Bill at 5pm today, with proceedings to be adjourned by midnight if not previously concluded.

-Additional reporting by Rónán Duffy

Read: Confusion as Labour TD votes against Government

Related: Amendment on fatal foetal abnormality rejected

Controversy: ‘No excuses, I just shouldn’t have done it’ – Tom Barry

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