Abortion referendum moves closer as committee votes against retaining 8th Amendment

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

The cross-party Oireachtas committee examining Ireland's abortion laws has voted by a landslide not to retain article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.

The decision was made by the committee on the future of the eighth amendment tonight in a vote after more than an hour of intense private discussion.

In public session, 15 committee members voted in favour of the proposal tabled by Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien, three voted against, two abstained and one member was not present.

Senator Ronan Mullen and Dublin Fingal TD Clare Daly had different reactions to the vote.

Mr Mullen said: "It is shameful in human rights terms, it is shameful in human dignity terms. This is a bad, bad moment for respect for human dignity in these Houses."

Ms Daly said: "There are games being played here. I think we've seen the opening salvoes of the referendum campaign in some of the speeches tonight. Something to look forward to, eh...not!"

They were:

In favour:

Jan O'Sullivan - Labour

Lisa Chambers - Fianna Fáil

Louise O'Reilly - Sinn Féin

Ruth Coppinger - Solidarity-PBP

Jerry Buttimer - Fine Gael

Clare Daly - Independents4Change

Paul Gavan - Sinn Féin

Bernard Durkan - Fine Gael

Catherine Noone - Fine Gael

Billy Kelleher - Fianna Fáil

Catherine Murphy - Social Democrats

Lynn Ruane - Independent

Hildegarde Naughton - Fine Gael

Jonathan O'Brien - Sinn Féin

Kate O'Connell - Fine Gael

Against:

Ronan Mullen - Independent

Mattie McGrath - Independent

Peter Fitzpatrick - Fine Gael

Abstained:

Anne Rabbitte - Fianna Fáil

James Browne - Fianna Fáil

Did not attend:

Ned O'Sullivan - Fianna Fáil

The vote means the committee can now examine six options outlined to it by senior counsel Nuala Butler on what proposals to put to the Government in mid-December.

They include a simple repeal, repeal with legislation, repeal and replace, and other general options.

Tonight's vote was taken after concerns eight motions seeking an immediate vote to repeal the eighth amendment - which some members wanted to take today - would not pass.

A separate motion put down by Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher seeking a vote to be delayed until the end of the second module, on November 22, was also not voted on due to the "not retain in full" proposal.


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