Simon Coveney: Politicians should not be asked about abortion

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has said politicians should not be forced to reveal their views on abortion during the upcoming general election because the issue is “personal and difficult” for people.

The Fine Gael member made the remark during a special edition of RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme recorded at University College Cork yesterday after his own party became locked in an internal row in recent weeks over the matter.

“These are very personal and difficult choices and decisions that people have to make.

“I think to break it down into a single blunt question of are you in favour or aren’t you of repealing the eighth, I don’t think gives this discussion and debate the kind of sensitivity it needs.

“The problem with this issue is unless you know what the eighth amendment will be replaced with, this is a debate that is half informed,” Mr Coveney said.

Speaking on the same programme, Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said he is “strongly pro-life”, a position also expressed by Sinn Féin education spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien.

Mr McGrath said voters have a right to know what their representative’s views are regardless of the sensitivities involved, saying “that’s the nature of democracy and the nature of politics”, while Mr O’Brien said politicians must leave their “consciences at the gates of Leinster House”.

Fine Gael became embroiled in an internal row last month after Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly said there should be a referendum on repealing the eighth amendment during the next government.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has since confirmed a citizen’s convention will be set up to examine the issue, and that Fine Gael representatives will be given a free vote on any legal changes.


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