Katherine Zappone applauds 'ambitious deadline' for abortion referendum

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, Political Correspondent

Children's Minister and prominent pro-choice campaigner Katherine Zappone has warned Government must ensure the eighth amendment vote takes place before the next election and does not suffer delays or it could be postponed for "a long time".

On Tuesday, Fianna Fáil TD and eighth amendment committee member Anne Rabbitte raised concerns over the December deadline for the cross-party group's findings, saying the timeline may not be achievable.

Ms Rabbitte added that if the deadline was missed, it would automatically push back the planned May or June date for the referendum on the future of the eighth amendment, which was signed off on by Cabinet this week.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner at a National Youth Council of Ireland event at the Mansion House in Dublin, Ms Zappone said while the December committee deadline is "ambitious" she believes it can be met.

However, she added that any significant delay to the referendum date could push the vote "into the next electoral cycle, which could put it back a long time".

"I think it is an ambitious deadline, I absolutely support Taoiseach Varadkar though in establishing a timeframe by way of encouraging and motivating us to get there.

"It's important we have a deadline, I think it's one of the most important things this Government does allow people the opportunity to vote in relation to the eighth amendment and we do need it sooner rather than later, not only because women have waited for years but also because of the political context, that we are in a minority government.

"The Taoiseach is recognising this, and we really applaud him with regard to his willingness to try to get it done in this Government and that it doesn't move into the next electoral cycle which could put it back a long time," she said.

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