Taoiseach Enda Kenny has firmly rejected claims he misled voters on Fine Gael’s abortion stance.
Mr Kenny insisted that upcoming legislation to reform the law in line with the 21-year-old Supreme Court X case ruling would allow suicidal fears to trigger a termination only in “narrow circumstances”.
In an interview with RTÉ, the Taoiseach also ruled out a Cabinet reshuffle in 2013.
On the abortion issue, Mr Kenny said the changes did not go against Fine Gael’s election promises not to legislate for abortion as the situation had moved on due to the findings of the European Court of Human Rights and the Government’s expert group.
Mr Kenny said bringing in the X case ruling clarifications would not lead to a situation of “abortion on demand” in Ireland.
“In the case of where suicidal tendencies are, remember that the clarification here is that the abortion, the termination, that is mentioned, could only apply in the case of where the mother is to be saved is a very, very narrow area.
“I’m not moving to any situation where there is, a sort of, abortion on demand here in Ireland,” Mr Kenny told RTÉ.
While acknowledging that some Fine Gael candidates had sent out leaflets saying the party would not legislate for abortion, the Taoiseach said the situation had changed.
“What I said before was that we would take into account the findings of the European Court of Human Rights, and we established an expert group on that which came up with a number of options.
“This is about providing medical care and attention for women who are pregnant. In that sense the Supreme Court and the constitution clarified the rights that apply here without stating what the legal certainties which apply and which should apply might be.
“If a woman who is pregnant presents with mental challenges, or psychiatric challenges, the first imperative is to give that person really intensive care and consideration for the challenge that she faces,” Mr Kenny said.
The issue of strong suicidal feelings being grounds for a termination as set out in the X case ruling is causing alarm among some Fine Gael TDs.
Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton is looking at drawing up a draft bill to present to Health Minister James Reilly that does not include a suicide provision.
Meanwhile, Mr Kenny again insisted he expects to secure a deal with the ECB that would result in the country not having to make the €3.1bn Anglo promissory note payment due by the end of March.
“I am confident that we will secure a deal before the end of March, which is the payment date for the next €3bn. I don’t contemplate not getting a deal here,” he said.
Mr Kenny stressed failure to reach a deal with the ECB would make it very difficult for Ireland to exit the bailout deal at the end of this year as hoped.
Mr Kenny said the negotiations had taken so long because they were “very complex and highly technical”.
The Taoiseach also expressed confidence in the way Dr Reilly was doing his job as health minister.
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