Two potential FG rebels to support abortion legislation

By Mary Regan

The Government revolt over legislation allowing abortion in limited circumstances is expected to be limited after two potential Fine Gael rebels said this evening that they will support the Bill.

The Taoiseach’s two Mayo constituency colleagues, Michelle Mulherin and John O’Mahony both confirmed they’ll vote with the Government when the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill goes to a Dáil vote after midnight.

Ms Mulherin who had earlier expressed strong reservations about the clause allowing abortion if a woman is suicidal, has told the Dáil: “I am now faced with either supporting the Bill or being booted out of the party, my party. And I am not going to allow myself to be booted out so I’m supporting this legislation.”

She said she was “very disappointed that there was very little accommodation of the legitimate concerns expressed by myself and many others.”

Ms Mulherin met with Health Minister, James Reilly, for an hour and Taoiseach, Enda Kenny for an hour and a half on Tuesday night before reaching her decision.

Her constituency colleague, John O’Mahony, said he was satisfied that “the safeguards are adequate” to prevent abuse of the legislation.

“I have decided to support the passage of the remaining stages of this Bill through the Dáil,” he said in a statement.

Their support for the Bill means that the number of Fine Gael TDs to lose the whip over it is likely to be limited to five.

Junior Minister, Lucinda Creighton, is almost certain to join the four who have already lost the party whip when they voted against earlier stages of the legislation.

Speaking on amendments proposing to remove the suicide clause from the Bill, she said she cannot “support a clause which is essentially built on sand”.

John Paul Phelan of Carlow-Kilkenny - who has previously cast doubt over his support for the Bill - has not indicated his voting intentions ahead of tonight's vote.

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