Taoiseach again rules out free vote on abortion referendum bill

The Citizens' Assembly is to report back by the end of June 2017

Taoiseach again rules out free vote on abortion referendum bill

Taoiseach Enda Kenny addressing the inaugural meeting of the Citizens' Assembly in St Patrick's Hall at Dublin Castle | Image: Rollingnews.ie

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has upped the ante in a dispute with the Independent Alliance over abortion.

He is again ruling out a free vote for ministers when the Dáil votes this Thursday on a bill calling for a referendum.

The Independent Alliance has suggested tabling a counter motion, which would introduce a deadline for the new Citizens' Assembly to report back on the subject.

He was speaking last night as he attended the annual Fine Gael presidential dinner - his 15th as party leader.

But Mr Kenny is standing firm, and insists the assembly already has a time-frame for reporting back.

"The bill before the Dáil next week is a Private Members Bill - and cuts across that process entirely.

"A process, which I would remind you, that the Oireachtas - the Dáil and the Seanad - have voted to put in place.

"And my very strong view is that the Citizens' Assembly should be allowed to do its work", he said.

"The first meeting has already taken place of the Citizens' Assembly, so in that sense the lifetime of the Citizens' Assembly is for 12 months.

"But the first issue it will look at is the 8th amendment - (which is) due to report back before the end of June 2017."