Politicians wrestle with consciences - Editorial Comment

This evening, Wednesday, members of the Oireachtas face the difficult decision in relation to how they will vote in a ballot on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.

This evening, Wednesday, members of the Oireachtas face the difficult decision in relation to how they will vote in a ballot on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.

A number have already publicly indicated their intentions - some will back their political leaders but others have indicated that they cannot do so, not because they wish to incur the wrath of their party hierarchy, but because they must vote with their consciences.

That is as it should be. This is as divisive a subject as has come before the Dail in many, many years and it is an issue which has led to politicians wrestling between their party loyalty and their commitment to what they believe is right.

Some will face censure, the loss of their party whip and, in a number of cases, the loss of Ministerial posts.

However, that is the sacrifice they are prepared to make and they deserve nothing but admiration for placing their conscientious beliefs before political expediency. Would that all decisions were made on the same basis.

The fact of the matter is that this is far too great an issue to be dictated by a party whip. It is an extremely emotional subject and the idea that all should share the same view is a nonsense. Members voting on this Bill should be afforded the right to cast their ballot in accordance with their consciences. There should be no question of bullying them into acquiesing to appease political masters.