Government steps up efforts to keep abortion vote on track

The Government is to hold a special Cabinet meeting before the end of week in order to keep a referendum on the Eighth Amendment on track.

Health Minister Simon Harris had planned on bringing the final wording of the referendum on abortion to Cabinet today. However, this has been delayed because of Storm Emma.

The outcome of a landmark Supreme Court judgement on the rights of the unborn in the Constitution was also delayed after the courts had to close last week due to the weather. 

The Government wants to wait for this ruling before signing off on a wording, meaning a second cabinet meeting will have to be held later this week.

The Supreme Court, which will sit in the new Limerick courthouse this week, is now expected to give its decision on Wednesday morning and Mr Harris is pressing to hold a special meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning in order to let it progress to the Dáil before the end of the week.

There is also a possibility of the Dáil sitting on Friday to begin discussing this wording.

However, it is understood the Attorney General will have to assess the Supreme Court outcome before any referendum wording can be approved by Cabinet. The Government intends to ask the public a straight “repeal or retain” question on the future of the Eighth.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone stressed the fact that Government is working with a very tight timeframe to hold a referendum before the end of May.

“My hope is that [a special Cabinet] will happen this week and we will pretty much be able to stay on track in terms of the timeline that we have outlined,” she said.

“Some of that will be dependent on all of the parliamentarians and that we need to get it through the Houses in terms of our timeframe, I would still be hopeful and I am not going to give up hope in terms of the end of May until we see exactly when the judgement comes.”

Meanwhile, the recovery after Storm Emma is due to dominate today’s Cabinet meeting, with a number of ministers giving briefings on the road networks, health sector, and water leaks.


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