Objectors to X-case legislation to be ‘walked through’ the bill

Fine Gael TDs last night scrutinised the agreed abortion legislation saying they hoped frustrated party members would not jump ship and that objectors could be “walked through” the bill.

Ministers insisted party members would have time to study and debate the bill liberalising abortion laws.

Neither side in the Coalition was claiming victory in the negotiations over the controversial legislation.

However, Fine Gael members were conscious of members who oppose the legislation, that permits terminations for women who threaten suicide, being kicked out of the parliamentary party.

European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton, who has openly expressed concern about the legislation, said: “I have never had any issue with coming down on the side of my own moral judgement in any issue, so I think that’s not a dilemma for me at all.”

She said she wanted to work with the Government to produce legislation that would protect a mother’s life and that of the unborn.

Another female TD, who did not want to be named, said she expected Oireachtas members who had threatened to jump ship could now be persuaded to support the abortion bill.

“If we can walk [them] through, people with genuine concerns may have them allayed. There are some members who will have difficulties with suicide in any shape or form.”

Coalition TDs last night received briefing notes and copies of the draft legislation. The deal came after two Cabinet meetings during the day on the bill.

Labour and Fine Gael will hold parliamentary party meetings today on the new legislation.

Earlier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny denied there were any tensions at yesterday’s first Cabinet meeting.

Speaking at a jobs launch, he said: “The Cabinet considered 28 items. We just didn’t have time to go through all the discussion. There is never a problem with this Government. We will face into it and deal with it as you expect us to do.”

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the earlier meeting had been “peaceful and calm” while Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said it had been “respectful and professional”.

Both said yesterday afternoon the heads of bill would be agreed by last night and also published.

Mr Coveney said: “There will of course be a lot of discussion in the Fine Gael parliamentary party I expect overnight. There’s a lot of interest in this, people have very strong views, there is no more sensitive political issue than this issue.”

Mr Bruton refused to say if party members would jump ship because of the controversial legislation.

“When people see the obligations that the State has, the way in which it is being handled, I think we will bring people with us... at this point we’re not envisaging people defecting.”

Mr Coveney said there would be plenty of time for discussion and agreement.


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