TWO FINE Gael TDs have warned that they would not be supporting any Government legislation which might facilitate the carrying out of abortions in the State.
Tom Barry (Cork East) also supported Cardinal Seán Brady’s weekend suggestion that a referendum might be the only way to deal with the issue.
Mr Barry said last night he would have “problems” supporting Government legislation on the issue if it was introduced. “Legislation could be the introduction of abortion through the back door, using mental health as the criteria.”
He added: “Putting the issue before the people in a referendum would be a clear and democratic way of dealing with it.”
Mayo TD John O’Mahony disagreed with holding a referendum but warned that he could not support legislation which would in any way facilitate abortion.
“I have always opposed abortion in every sense and will continue to do so. I don’t think there is a need for a referendum. I would think this whole issue should be discussed in a calm, composed manner.” He called for the report of the expert group to be shown to the parliamentary party “at a very early stage”.
The expert group, which was set up by the Government to examine the response to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights that legislation should be introduced to give effect to the judgment of the Supreme Court in the X case, is not due to report until at least next month.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan refused to enter the debate on whether the Catholic Church should become directly involved in lobbying public representatives on abortion.
Labour chairman and Galway East TD Colm Keaveney said that while the Catholic Church was entitled to be listened to, the cardinal’s comments were “in excess” of the church’s standing in society.
Dublin South Central Labour TD Michael Conaghan said he agreed with his party’s position to await the expert group’s report.
“The Catholic Church can make its views known, but we cannot go back to an Ireland where it had undue influence and was very strident in advocating the implementation of its views.”
Fine Gael Oireachtas justice committee chairman David Stanton said: “The thing to do would be to wait and see what the report says; the Oireachtas doesn’t always follow what reports recommend.”
Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said: “I believe there is a legal and moral imperative on this government to legislate for the X case when the expert group has reported. I think the Church lacks moral authority on matters of sexuality.”
Former Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Tom Hayes told The Irish Times: “We should at least give that [expert] group the chance to report. I have no problem – none at all – with being canvassed by priests and bishops.”