Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell has said the opinion of the Catholic Church Primate of Ireland Eamon Martin “is not at all relevant” in the debate on abortion.

Ms O’Connell has hit out at Archbishop Martin’s calls for politicians to remember their faith in their dealings with the 1983 abortion amendment.

Calling for the eighth amendment to be retained, he suggested that to support abortion is not in keeping with the fundamental teaching of the Church, and that the taking of a life, at whatever stage, is “gravely, morally wrong”.

Ms O’Connell rejected his comments. “I don’t see why the archbishop’s views are in anyway relevant. I don’t see why Archbishop Martin should be getting involved in women’s health issues. It is the same as asking my four-year-old,” she told the Irish Examiner.

“If people genuinely believed that abortion was murder, then no one would have voted to export murderers to England. The fact [is] that people voted on the right to travel.”

Ms O’Connell said the Church should not have any role in deciding or shaping policy which relates to the health of women.

Eamon Martin
Eamon Martin

“They [the Church] are entitled to their opinion, but I don’t put any weight in them. I don’t see what involvement the Catholic Church should have in women’s health issues,” she said.

Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy said the archbishop’s comments show exactly why a separation of Church and State is so badly needed.

“We as legislators should not be following the preachings of leaders of faith, in this case the leader of the Catholic Church,” he told the Irish Examiner.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, as the only minister who took part in the pro-choice march on September 24, said she had no problem with politicians being influenced by their religious values.

“I have no difficulty with politicians being influenced and shaped drawing on their religious beliefs or their traditions and the values that they hold,” she said.

“Secondly, I think it’s absolutely clear to everyone that we live in a Republic, so when we make decisions about our Constitution, those are decisions that we need to keep in mind that is true and good for all of our citizens and residents.”

Independent senator Rónán Mullen said everyone, no matter their station, has an equal right to express their views on important civic issues. “Everybody, religious or otherwise, has the equal right to argue from their heart,” he said.

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