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FG and free votes July 3, 2016

Posted by Tomboktu in Democracy, Ethics, Fine Gael.

I haven’t seen the incident reflected in my screen shot below mentioned in any of the discussion on John Halligan’s intentions on how he will vote on Mick Wallace’s bill to permit terminations of pregnancy in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

It’s an extract from a Dáil vote on Tuesday 16 July 1974, and it shows the last-plus-two Fine Gael Taoiseach before Enda Kenny, Liam Cosgrave, voting Níl along side the leader of Fianna Fáil, Jack Lynch.

They were both voting against the Control of Importation, Sale and Manufacture of Contraceptives Bill, 1974, at the second stage, when the Dáil decides if it will accept the bill in principle. The Dáil didn’t, by 75 votes to 61.

The Supreme Court had ruled legislation prohibiting the import and sale of contraception was unconstitutional, and the Minister for Justice had prepared and proposed the bill to bring the law into line with the Constitution.

Two contrasts with today are worth noting:
(1) Fine Gael was prepared to allow not merely ministers, but the most senior cabinet minister, vote against a government bill without penalty.
(2) Unlike the situation with Attorney General’s advice on whether Mick Wallace’s bill is constitutional, there was no doubt in 1974 with the unconstitutionality of the law that the Taoiseach voted to leave in place.

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