TD assured he will not be excommunicated for backing abortion laws

A Mass-going North Cork TD has been given assurances by Church leaders that he will not be excommunicated for supporting the abortion legislation.

TD assured he will not be excommunicated for backing abortion laws

Tom Barry, a father of three who has spoken of his anti-abortion views, wrote to the papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and Cardinal Sean Brady over the Government’s abortion legislation.

Three Fine Gael parliamentary members — Peter Matthews, Fidelma Healy- Eames, and Brian Walsh — said they will not vote with the Coalition.

However, up to five others, including European Minister Lucinda Creighton and Senator Paul Bradford, have been vocal in their opposition to the bill.

Mr Barry, 44, is serving his first term in the Dáil and is a Fine Gael member for Cork North West.

In letters to the papal nuncio and Cardinal Brady, he raised the possibility of being excommunicated from the Church for supporting his party — even though paedophile priests in his diocese were not excommunicated when they were found to be abusing children.

“I received responses from both,” said Mr Barry.

“But in particular, Cardinal Brady’s letter was very decent, telling me not be to be concerned but outlining his and the Church’s views on the matter.”

Mr Barry was concerned after anti-abortion activists handed out leaflets labelling him and another Fine Gael TD as “baby killers”. The leaflets were distributed outside his local Killavullen church as his children were on the way into Mass.

Mr Barry said “a line was crossed that day” and he politely advised the activists to leave the churchyard.

Another first-time TD, Noel Harrington from Castletownbere, Co Cork, said that like many colleagues, he has received up to 50 emails a day from anti- abortion groups, and streams of letters and postcards.

“There’s a lot of stuff being mentioned like ‘blood on your hands’ and ‘murder’,” said Mr Harrington. “The system is choked up with these emails every day and they all have to be looked at.”

More in this section