A debate on abortion could “divide the nation” and should be avoided given the scale of economic difficulties facing the Government, according to Europe Minister, Lucinda Creighton. She also said that the Fine Gael party remains committed to the pro-life pledge it gave before the last election. The Government-appointed expert group on abortion is due to report later this month. Minister Creighton said the Coalition partners diverged on social issues, describing Fine Gael as pro-life and Labour as pro-choice. Abortion would prove “hugely divisive” within Government and political parties.
“But most importantly . . . I think the impact in terms of division of the Irish public is the real thing that I just think is really counterproductive and something that I would not like to see happen,” she said. “It’s so divisive and potentially explosive. I just don’t see the need to divide the nation on an issue that is so sensitive to so many people . . . It should not be a priority for this Government. I think we have enough to be getting on with in running the country, reducing our bank debt, stabilising our finances, getting people off the dole. That’s what matters most to people and my preference would just be not to deal with this issue right now.”
Minister Creighton said Fine Gael had articulated a very clear pro-life position before the general election. “I’ve heard everybody from [Minister for the Environment] Phil Hogan to the Taoiseach speaking about it at different times . . . Our position is clear and it hasn’t changed,” she insisted.
Asked about Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s recent refusal to spell out the Labour Party’s position on abortion, Minister Creighton said she had always understood Labour was a pro-choice party. She noted that Labour was a bigger party than it had ever been before. “Perhaps they’re having their own internal discussions, as we are in Fine Gael, and they’re perfectly entitled to. Far be it from me to get involved in an internal Labour Party debate.”
On the issue of same-sex “marriage”, which Mr Gilmore has called “the most important civil rights issue of the age”, Minister Creighton said, “The Tánaiste’s views are the Tánaiste’s views.” They are not the Government’s views, she stated. “On social issues, we really diverge. That’s quite clear.”
The Irish Times. September 4.
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