Coveney: I don't support abortion on demand

The housing minister says the question could run alongside that of voting rights

Coveney: I don't support abortion on demand

Minister Simon Coveney arrives at Government Buildings in Dublin | Image:

Housing Minister Simon Coveney says he does not support proposals that would allow abortion on demand in Ireland.

Last month, the Citizens' Assembly recommended unrestricted legal abortion be introduced here.

Members examined eight scenarios in which the Oireachtas might legislate for abortion, and also the time limits for such abortions.

The report recommended that abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality be allowed, following a majority vote of 89%.

99% of the assembly voted to continue to allow abortion when there is substantial physical risk to woman's life, while 89% voted that abortion should be available in cases of rape.

But Mr Coveney, who is seen as one of the next potential leaders of Fine Gael, said: "I am uncomfortable with some of those recommendations, I do think that there is change necessary in this area - but I don't support an approach that effectively facilitates abortion on demand in Ireland".

Speaking in Dublin, Mr Coveney suggested a referendum on repealing the 8th amendment could be held on the same day as extending voting rights to emigrants.

He said: "Hopefully next year we will have a referendum day whereby we ask a number of fundamental questions, of course we have to be ready for that, though.

"I think there’s a lot of work to be done to be ready for that – in particular, on issues around the 8th amendment".

The Government has committed to holding a referendum on voting rights, but no date has been set.

"It's not that simple"

The issue of the 8th amendment was raised again on Thursday, after Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin was pushed on abortion in cases of pregnancy as a result of incest rape.

"If someone is raped by their father, for example, and becomes pregnant as a result, what’s your view on abortion in that case?", KFM host Shane Beatty asked Mr Martin.

He replied: "It’s not that simple, Shane... are you talking about within 10 weeks, are you talking about within 20 weeks for example?"

"It’s not that simple, it’s just not that simple... it's not a simple yes or no".