Senator Jim Walsh has left the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party over his opposition to same-sex couples using assisted reproduction and his “deeply held and conscientious opinions”.
Party leader Micheál Martin is now left with 33 Dáil and Seanad members as he faces criticism over Fianna Fáil’s new slump in the opinion polls.
Mr Walsh met Mr Martin yesterday and explained that he would not support the Coalition’s family legislation, which will legalise same-sex adoption and regulate assisted reproduction.
He said he would be tabling amendments to the Children and Family Relationship Bill as well as legislation for May’s same-sex marriage referendum.
“I am pressing these amendments which are all connected to my deeply held and conscientious opinions, with respect to the subject matter involved,” said Mr Walsh.
He added that he was relinquishing the party whip. This means he no longer will be connected with Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary activities but that he still remains a senator and a member of the party.
A number of amendments to the family legislation were pressed by Mr Walsh and others senators in the Upper House yesterday. Mr Walsh wanted the legislation changed so only married couples will be able to avail of assisted reproduction, such as IVF, under new laws.
Senator and gay rights activist David Norris attacked those driving through the changes.
At one stage, he also added: “People are voting with their reproductive organs and they are ignoring what is being said here. It is about time members of this house faced the human reality that is out there and not this kind of theological theorising that’s going on.”
The Coalition say the bill will modernise the laws on families and guardianship but will not change the rights of most children in terms of parentage.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved