Independent TD Mattie McGrath has challenged the Taoiseach to reverse his heavily criticised decision to refuse a free vote to members of the Government parties in respect of the proposed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013.
“What the Taoiseach is doing here in respect of the Protection of Life Bill is what he has consistently done regarding all pieces of difficult legislation; he is hiding behind the smoke screen of an apparent compulsion on the State to legislate in terms of the X-Case. With cuts to the respite grant, Frontline worker’s pay, abolition of the Mobility Allowance, it is always somebody else’s fault. The Taoiseach is in a constant state of denial here about the responsibility he must take for the actions of his Government.”
Deputy McGrath went on to press the Taoiseach about the statement which was issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference indicating their belief that the Country was being actively misled about the true nature of the Bill. The Taoiseach denied this assertion and went on to defend his position by saying that while he happens to be a Taoiseach who is Catholic, he is not a Catholic Taoiseach:
“This might be a neat line trotted out by the Taoiseach, but I was explicit in my questions to him that the issue of abortion transcends that of any individual’s faith or religious views. Neither I nor any Deputy I know is asking the Taoiseach to legislate in line with specifically Catholic beliefs. What we are asking is for him to act in accordance with the weight of evidence, both medical and legal. This is a human rights issue. It is an issue of women’s welfare and the welfare of the unborn child. What this proposed piece of legislation does however is simply disregard the evidence. For the Taoiseach to characterise this as being about pro or anti catholic is deeply disingenuous and just one more example of a Taoiseach who throws up smoke-screens around any given issue simply to avoid engaging with the facts,” concluded Deputy McGrath.