Gilmore warns rebel TDs to back bill

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has warned potential abortion law rebels such as Lucinda Creighton that he expects them to back the Government.

Though careful to avoid directly naming the Europe Minister, who is at the centre of speculation over whether she will defy Enda Kenny and be expelled from Fine Gael after next week’s vote, the Labour leader insisted all Coalition TDs must support the legislation.

“This is a Government bill and all Government deputies are expected to support a Government bill, we have had circumstances in the past where both parties of Government have had to assert that this is the case,” Mr Gilmore said.

The Fine Gael leadership is applying maximum pressure to potential rebels ahead of next week’s final Dáil vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

The four TDs who opposed it already have been cut loose from the party as Mr Kenny made it clear they would not be allowed to stand for Fine Gael at the next general election.

Ms Creighton used a Dáil intervention to strongly indicate she would vote against the bill if it returned from committee stage without amendments regarding the suicidal intent grounds for a termination.

The Health Committee dismissed such attempts to alter the bill and it will go back to the Dáil for final approval within days.

Up to four other Fine Gael TDs are also believed to be deciding which side to come down on.

Mr Gilmore also expressed alarm at the hate mail received by Praveen Halappanavar after his wife’s death and his bid to find out how she was treated.

“Praveen Halappanavar has had enough to endure over the course of the last period of time without having to endure the depraved attitudes of people who are just being hurtful.

“There is no justification whatever for that and I would call for those who are engaged in it to stop it.”

However, Mr Gilmore refused to be drawn on whether Labour would push for a referendum on extending abortion rights to rape victims and women dealing with foetal fatal conditions after the X case legislation is passed. He deliberately avoided enflaming Fine Gael backbenchers by insisting the issue could be looked at until the present bill became law.

“The only issue that is on the agenda right now is the legislation that is before the Oireachtas. We need to get that enacted and that is what we are concentrating on.

“This piece of legislation is very limited, I think we all know that, but we have to address the bill that is before us,” Mr Gilmore said.

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