Public would reject referendum to repeal the 8th without alternative, says Varadkar

The Social Protection Minister also stated that the Taoiseach misspoke about previous votes on abortion

Leo Varadkar thinks the public would reject a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment if voters are not given an alternative.

The Minister for Social Protection says he believes people want to know what would replace the law if it were to be scrapped.

The amendment to the Constitution added in 1983 gives equal rights to life of the unborn and the mother.

Speaking on Newstalk's Sunday Show, the Minister said: “I don’t think you can ask the people to just vote to repeal the eighth without being able to tell them what might happen next.

"I think the public would expect that, and I think those who are advocating a repeal need to actually develop that as well."

Minister Varadkar believes there are three options available. The first is to leave it "as is" which he is not in favour of.

He said: "There are then two alternative options.

"One is the divorce model. The model for example used for marriage equality, which is to put in something new into the Constitution, and then have legislation to follow it."

"People would see the legislation in advance so they’d know what’s going to happen. They’d know what they were voting for."

He told Shane Coleman: "The third option is just to repeal it altogether and leave it up to the Dáil and Seanad of the day to introduce any law that they want, which again I think would probably be defeated actually."

He added, "The public would actually want to know; what are we voting for?"

The Minister for Social Protection also said the Taoiseach was incorrect when he spoke in the Dáil about previous referendums on abortion.

Enda Kenny had said Ireland voted on three occasions to keep the 8th amendment.

“What he said was incorrect," said Varadkar, "I understand subsequently he’s actually clarified that, or at least he says he has."

"I think it’s just a case of the Taoiseach misspeaking on that.

“There was a referendum on it in 1983. Since then there hasn't been another one on the 8th amendment itself.

"In fairness to the Taoiseach it happens to all of us at the best of times. Sometimes we make mistakes and make errors."

When asked if Kenny should correct the record of the Dáil, Varadkar responded by saying "The important thing now is to deal with the issue, and not be getting too concerned about clarifying the record of the Dail.”