abnormalities three government ministers bill allowing shane ross
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Three Government Ministers are to vote in favour of a Bill allowing terminations in the cases of fatal foetal abnormalities.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross has confirmed he will support the proposed legislation by Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace.
Minister of State at the Department of Health Finian McGrath and Minister of State at the Department of Jobs John Halligan will also support Mr Wallace’s Bill.
The Cabinet has not agreed a position on the Bill. It was due to decide one at Tuesday’s meeting.
Mr Ross said that the Bill allowing abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality should be tested in court.
He said two other fellow Independent Alliance TDs - Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Sean Canney - will be voting against it.
“We believe this is a vote of conscience,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
Mr Ross said he had seen the Attorney General’s advice and he took it seriously. His understanding was that the Attorney General had not said the Bill was unconstitutional, but that the Supreme Court would find it unconstitutional.
“I think it should be tested in court. I don’t see anything wrong with it going to Second Stage and if there are constitutional difficulties they can be dealt with then.”
He said there were precedents for government not taking the advice of the Attorney General and of the government allowing a free vote.
The repeal of the Eighth Amendment was not included in the Programme for Government, Mr Ross said.
“I don’t see this is as an issue of defying anyone. It is not binding us in the Programme for Government…I believe there are issues when collective Cabinet responsibility is important, but not on this issue.”
Mr Ross said Ministers did not “put our consciences in the deep freezer when we walk into the Cabinet room” and that this issue “should not be forced through the Dáil”.
“We want the freedom and liberty to vote according our consciences. Eighteen months ago Finian McGarth and John Halligan and I voted in favour of a similar bill, it would be hypocrisy to change it this time,” he added. “What we’re saying is that we have a free vote and will vote with our conscience. I don’t see this as an issue that will keep occurring.”