Fianna Fáil TDs offer differing views on 8th amendment in Dáil debate

Barry Cowen says he cannot stand by and allow the State to repeat mistakes of the past

Fianna Fáil TDs offer differing views on 8th amendment in Dáil debate

Barry Cowen. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A Fianna Fáil TD says he cannot stand by and allow the State to repeat mistakes of the past regarding the treatment of pregnant women.

Barry Cowen supported repealing the 8th amendment in the Dáil this evening, while a number of his party colleagues called for its retention.

It is the sixth day of Dáil statements on abortion, following the report by an Oireachtas committee recommending a repeal of the 8th amendment.

The committee also recommended that abortion without restriction should be allowed for up to 12 weeks into the pregnancy.

Deputy Cowen says studying the detail of the committee report helped him to make up his mind.

He stated: "I've been present as the State offered apologies to the women of the Magdalene Launderies, and more recently to Joanna Hayes, the woman at the centre of the Kerry Babies case.

"I've only been a TD for seven years, and I've still come to realise the horrors inflicted on women, particularly and crucially pregnant women. I cannot stand by and allow similar mistakes be made [as were] made in the past."

In contrast, his Fianna Fáil colleague Darragh O'Brien says he cannot support a repeal of the 8th amendment of the Constitution.

Deputy O'Brien argued: "The recommendation purely from the committee to simply remove [Article] 40.3.3 and repeal the 8th amendment, and just to leave it solely to the Oireachtas to legislate into the future, is something that I'm deeply uncomfortable with and cannot support.

"There would be no barrier on any future Oireachtas to restrict the provisions simply to 12 weeks - a future Dáil could increase it to 16, 20 [weeks] and so on."

Eamon O'Cuiv, meanwhile, spoke strongly against liberalising Ireland's abortion laws.

He said: "I have to say that this referendum will be the first time ever that a referendum will be brought in that will take a fundamental human right to life away from so many."

The Oireachtas debate has now been adjourned, and may resume next week.

Additional reporting by Stephen McNeice