Fine Gael struggles with a great issue of the day… November 29, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Uncategorized.
..to no clear effect. Fascinating how this is panning out in light of IELB’s thoughts here.
According to the Irish Times:
Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton was the most senior critic of the Fine Gael leadership to speak out when party TDs and Senators were briefed on the expert group on abortion’s report.
Some will wonder about the numbers:
Minister for Health James Reilly and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter addressed about 50 members of the parliamentary party. Backbenchers John O’Mahony, Terence Flanagan, Billy Timmins and James Bannon were among at least 12 members who spoke critically at the meeting.
There’s 74 odd FG members in the Dáil. 50 turn up. 12 express reservations, or more. For Creighton apparently FG have ‘no mandate’ to bringin in legislation. Well, not exactly… their 2011 Manifesto said the following:
European Court of Human Rights Judgement on Abortion: We will establish an all-party committee, with access to medical and legal expertise, to consider the implications of the recent ruling of the ECHR and to make recommendations. Such a process would, we believe, be the best way of examining the issues in a way that respects the range of sincerely-held views on this matter.
Deliberations conducted. Report written. Recommendations made. Time to deliver.
And what of the other areas that more acutely diverge from their election manifesto where policy implementation bears down upon an Irish citizenry and small complaint from Creighton there?
But the question is how many will jump ship if and when this comes to a vote. According to the IT others antagonistic to legislation did not arrive at the meeting. It’s hard to judge how much this is a phoney war where TDs, whether FG (or LP) will fall into line behind legislation on X or will make a break. Elsewhere the IT mentions expectations that perhaps 3 or 4 might bail. But, you know, it could be many more. And it’s not as if the LP is entirely as one on the issue either.
It’s a serious matter, but one has to smile on reading the following:
Other speakers complained that their votes were being taken for granted by the leadership. The Cabinet decision to opt for a preferred option before the end of December and implement that choice early in the new year was greeted with anger.
Many complained that the timeline was too tight.
Too tight? 20 years since X? Really?
Mind you, what a party, check this out:
There were a number of references to a “letter of comfort” distributed by the now Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan during the general election campaign when he was director of elections. The letter said Fine Gael was opposed to the legalisation of abortion.
Enda Kenny last night told Fine Gael TDs and Senators “no one would be press-ganged” after a group complained they were being forced to move too quickly on abortion.
Mr Kenny told the parliamentary party meeting that he was personally “more conservative” than many of them. He said Fine Gael had always been “pro-life” and remained so, according to a number of those present.
What to make of FF’s appeal to a ‘middle ground consensus’.
It will be most interesting to see where they think that middle ground actually is.
It has been absolutely essential hitherto that the trojan efforts of Joan Collins, Clare Daly and Mick Wallace – and let’s not forget those around them and those in various groups who have managed to in some ways inflect public opinion and who have worked tirelessly on the issue – pushing towards some form of legislative response were made, and entirely correct that that should be continued over the past few weeks and right up to last night. Otherwise it is entirely possible that the response to the death of Savita Halappanavar would have been more muted and less effective and that the focus on the legislature would be less clear. Moreover as noted in comments the presence of significant crowds outside the Dáil will not have gone unnoticed. But what’s depressing about this is that in some ways for any further progress at all on the central issue, however minimal, to some degree it is the FG parliamentary party, and FF and LP as well who are in the driving seat – and FG party discipline may be central to this. Perhaps in that light the protests are as important – if not in fact more so – now as they were before.
Speaking of which, as Wendy Lyon’s notes in comments:
Could I make a plug here for the National Day of Action in Galway on Saturday. Choice Ireland is subsidising a bus to it for €5 per person (leaving Parnell Square after 10.30 and returning at 8) – spaces can be reserved by emailing choiceireland at gmail dot com.