There have been a number if interesting responses to the call by Cardinal Sean Brady to protect unborn human life and to resist the new attempt to legislate for abortion in Ireland.
The Cardinal said on RTE Radio that,
Dail Deputies and Ministers will be lobbied by bishops and priests as part of a full-scale campaign of opposition if there is any attempt by the Government to legislate for abortion.The Cardinal also suggested that another referendum on abortion was possibly the only solution to deal with the controversial issue.
The Labour Party Minister for Communications Mr Pat Rabbitte, speaking on the same programme, said he would be “somewhat surprised at the cardinal’s reference to lobbying and engaging with, canvassing, public representatives and so on, on the matter. […]
Minister Rabbitte then unhelpfully misconstrued the Cardinals reference to lobbying as follows,
“I don’t have any objection to any of the churches stating its position and making it clear, but I think it would be a retrogressive step if we were to go back to the days of the Catholic Church dictating to elected public representatives how [they] should address an issue,” he said.
The Irish Independent today reports that a minister last night said the Government should consider allowing Labour and Fine Gael TDs a free vote on any abortion proposals that come before the Dail.
Meanwhile junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes told the Irish Independent that abortion was such an emotive issue that Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore should consider giving their TDs a free hand.
"It certainly is something the Government should consider," Mr Hayes said. "This is an issue for people's individual conscience. The option of a free vote is something a mature parliament should be able to do more often."There are differences within Labour and within Fine Gael. To present it as a party political issue is a distortion."
Another Fine Gael minister admitted there was a growing desire among rank-and-file TDs for a free, unwhipped vote.
"A lot of our lads would like a free vote on it because it's a personal issue and not a budgetary issue," the minister said. "The only worry is it would create a precedent. There has been talk of it between members."
But the source added: "It would be a matter for the party leaders. And I would be shocked if abortion is dealt with in the lifetime of this Government."