Taoiseach defends Citizens' Convention on abortion in the Dáil

The convention is due to hold its first public meeting in three weeks

abortion

Image: Oireachtas TV via Páraic Gallagher/Twitter

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has defended the Citizens' Convention on abortion, describing it as "not a black and white issue".

The Fine Gael leader was responding to criticism this afternoon from pro-choice TDs, on the first day of the new Dáil term.

Ruth Coppinger, Paul Murphy, Richard Boyd-Barrett, Gino Kenny, Mick Barry and Bríd Smith all wore jumpers bearing the 'Repeal' slogan during leaders’ questions.

A Fine Gael deputy has described the wearing of the pro-choice jumpers in the Dail as "a disrespectful and juvenile stunt".

Ciaran Cannon said previous visitors to Leinster House had been kicked out for wearing shirts with logos - and asked Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl if Dáil rules were being broken.

The convention is due to hold its first public meeting on the subject of repealing the 8th amendment on October 15th.

Deputy Coppinger told Mr Kenny that protesters who demonstrated on Saturday want the clause removed, not simply amended again.

"In what could be one of his final acts as Taoiseach, I ask him to break a pattern of more than four decades of him being on the more backward, conservative side of all these vital decisions in the Dáil," she said.

The AAA-PBP TD accused him of ignoring polls showing a majority of voters want a referendum on the issue.

But Mr Kenny insisted it was important to continue sounding out the issue, saying the Oireachtas had endorsed the setting up of the assembly.

"The T-shirts may be black and have white writing on them but this is about people and people have different views,” he said.

"Some 20,000 or 30,000 may have marched at the weekend but we have the citizens' assembly to allow people to have their say."

The Taoiseach added: "I admire the courage of the 99 who have stepped forward to participate in the discussion. 

"It is not an easy thing for many of them to do, given the nature of the divisive response that can come from participating in something like this."