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Varadkar says he understands TDs reluctance to sit on Eighth Amendment committee

Fine Gael have yet to finalise who will sit on the committee.

John O'Dowd from UCD speaking at the Citizen's Assembly.
John O'Dowd from UCD speaking at the Citizen's Assembly.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

SOCIAL PROTECTION MINISTER Leo Varadkar has said he can understand why some TDs might be reluctant to sit on the Joint Oireachtas Committee tasked with debating the Citizen’s Assembly final report.

While most of the other political parties have named who will sit on the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, only two members – Kate O’Connell and Catherine Noone have been confirmed for Fine Gael.

It’s understood that if no one from the party steps forward to sit on the committee, the Taoiseach may resort to appointing TDs and senators to the committee.

Varadkar told reporters yesterday that he hadn’t heard of any difficulties, but added:

I can understand certainly why TDs might be reluctant to serve on a committee that is a very sensitive issue. Some people on both sides have very extreme views on it, so I can understand why some TDs might feel they will come under pressure or receive abuse.

He added that he is confident that Fine Gael will be able to fill the seats on the committee.

Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are to allow a free vote to party members on the issue.

Recommendations 

The Citizens’ Assembly recommended that the Oireachtas should legislate for abortion and allow abortion without restriction in Ireland.

Voters are expected to be asked whether they support the findings of the Citizen’s Assembly findings in a referendum, and the committee is now being set up to examine how to proceed.

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Committee members

The all-party committee of 20 members due to debate the recommendations is to be established shortly and will propose legislative changes by autumn.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said this week that he wants to see the committee established in a either this week or the next.

Fianna Fáil have named their four TDs for the committee – Billy Kelleher, Lisa Chambers, James Browne and Anne Rabbitte. Senator Ned O’Sullivan is also expected to sit on the committee.

Brid Smith and Ruth Coppinger from Solidarity-PBP will be on the committee on a rotational-basis, while Louise O’Reilly and Jonathan O’Brien will sit on the committee, for Sinn Fein.

Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan, Independent TD Mattie McGrath and Clare Daly will also join the committee. It’s understood other members in the mix include Independent Rónán Mullen and Alice Mary Higgins.

Read: Taoiseach gives first response to Citizen’s Assembly vote, says committee now being set up>

Read: Poll backs Citizens’ Assembly on abortion but rejects minister’s maternity hospital promises>

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