Some of the Independent Alliance look set to support Independent TD Ruth Coppinger’s bill to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution on abortion.
While no decision will be taken by the group until they reconvene later in the month as to what they will do, members last night signalled their unwillingness to oppose a bill which they fully support.
In the weeks before the Dáil broke for the summer, the Government came close to collapsing over an insistence by ministers Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, and John Halligan to support a bill proposed by Independent TD Mick Wallace, which sought to liberalise Ireland’s abortion laws.
Although Mr Ross had agreed to the establishment of new channels of communication with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in order to improve relations, there are fears the Coppinger bill could spark a similar crisis for the Government.
Both Mr McGrath and Mr Halligan in particular have long campaigned for abortion laws to be liberalised and the duo have made it known that they will seek to be consistent when the Coppinger bill is taken.
“Absolutely, the three ministers as of now feel they want to be consistent in their actions on this issue of conscience. At this stage that would mean supporting the Coppinger bill,” said a senior source.
However, it is possible the alliance could split as it did on the Wallace bill, with junior OPW minister Sean Canney and Longford TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran likely to oppose it.
The bill to repeal the Eighth Amendment was launched by the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit last month, who said they hoped supporters will lobby their local TDs on the abortion issue.
Dublin TDs Ms Coppinger and Bríd Smith were joined by Ailbhe Smyth of People Before Profit are supporting the bill.
The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution equates the right to life of the unborn with the mother’s right to life. When it was introduced in 1983, it was heralded as a victory for pro-life campaigners in Ireland.
Pro-choice campaigners are seeking to have a referendum on this amendment as its removal could pave the way for new laws on abortion in Ireland.
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