Taoiseach says party whip will apply to Fine Gael members

Friday 31 May 2013 22.56
Mr Kenny said the proposed legislation was about ensuring that women would be in no doubt about their constitutional rights and protections
Mr Kenny said the proposed legislation was about ensuring that women would be in no doubt about their constitutional rights and protections

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has reiterated that the party whip will apply to Fine Gael members when the Oireachtas votes on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.

In an interview with RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta in Co Galway this evening, Mr Kenny said there would not be a free vote for members of his party or their coalition partners.

Mr Kenny said the proposed legislation was about ensuring that women would be in no doubt about their constitutional rights and protections.

He said that the bill was part of a legislative programme that would be fulfilled.

He said he was aware of the difficulties the proposals caused some Fine Gael members but that he hoped that there would be no defections from the parliamentary party as a result.

Mr Kenny said it was his hope that the legislation would clear all stages before the summer recess.

Earlier, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the free vote for party members on the Government's abortion legislation may be followed by other "votes of conscience".

It is the first free vote in the history of the Fianna Fáil party.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Martin said a group within the party is examining the whole area of allowing a conscience vote on other "issues of life", such as euthanasia.

The party leader has said he is comfortable with the decision to allow a free vote on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013.

The decision came after a parliamentary party meeting could not reach consensus on the measure.

Mr Martin also said that he did not believe that his authority had been weakened by the decision.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said the party whip will be imposed on Fine Gael members in the Dáil vote on abortion legislation.

Speaking on Today with Pat Kenny, Mr Coveney said he did not agree with Fianna Fáil in allowing a free vote on the issue.

He said that he did agree with Fianna Fáil that the bill should be described as a pro-life bill.

Mr Coveney said elected Fine Gael party members had been collectively elected under a brand and a party banner.

He said that they would collectively decide how to vote on the proposed legislation.

Minister Coveney said that as the largest party in the country and in Government, Fine Gael did not have the luxury of allowing a free vote.