This Dáil may never get to legislate for abortion even if the people vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, ministers are privately warning.
Such is the precarious nature of the minority government, there is deep rooted opposition to the concept of unlimited access to abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy, and there is a growing feeling that this administration is not robust enough to get the law changed.
“We may never get to vote on this,” one senior minister told the Irish Examiner. “Even if the Eighth is repealed, and it is a big if, will this Dáil pass the 12-week rule?
"I am not so sure. Quietly, people are fearful this may go down and this issue will be parked for another generation.”
Yesterday, Minister for Health Simon Harris took to Twitter to highlight that several other European countries operate a 12-week limit to abortions.
The Dáil debate on the referendum will recommence on Tuesday week, following the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, before a vote to formally establish the Referendum Commission and paving the way for the referendum can take place on Friday, May 25.
At a major pro-life rally in Dublin on Saturday, the people of Ireland were asked to “stand in the gap” for mothers and babies by preventing the liberalisation of the State’s abortion laws.
Participants marched from Parnell Square to Merrion Square, where a rally calling for the preservation of the Eighth Amendment took place.
At the rally, Save the 8th campaign spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said there were 10 weeks left to save the amendment, which gives an equal right to life to the unborn and the mother.
“Ten weeks to ensure that the best of Irish people vote no to abortion,” she said.
In his address to the rally, businessman and former European elections candidate Declan Ganley described the numbers that marched across the city as “phenomenal”.
“This is the grassroots of the movement, marching because they are proud of their country,” he said. “Ireland has been a beacon of light to the rest of the world with the most progressive Constitution in the world with the protection of the unborn.”
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