Sean Kenny, Labour TD for Dublin North East.

Lisa Powell writes;

I re-e-mailed my TDs re: legislation this morning, this was one response:


Hello Lisa,

You might be aware that Labour TDs including myself, did not support Clare Daly’s billon the X case last night. As your TD, I want to explain why I voted No.

In order to succeed in getting legislation for the X case, I, as a legislator, have to work with the reality of the political games that are being played in order to get X case legislation passed into law.

Fine Gael, Labour’s coalition partners would not support Clare Daly’s bill. I believe that Labour Ministers suggested to them that they should support it. But they did not wish to do so – they want to wait to debate the Expert Group Report which has been published recently. This is because Fine Gael and Labour agreed on the Expert Group process a year ago.

Fine Gael now want to see that through. It is clear on reading the Expert Group
report that the Expert Group believes legislation for the X case and regulations for doctors, is the way forward on this matter.

Fine Gael are a very conservative political party. They do not really want legislation. Labour will have to force them to support legislation.

It is very, very difficult getting them to move on this – but it is working previously, for example, Enda Kenny has said he will not be rushed. But earlier this week he said he would move swiftly.

The really conservative Fine Gael TDs and Ministers are now speaking out in the media about their opposition. They are doing that because they know that Labour is influencing Fine Gael and that they will have to support legislation. They are trying to re-assure their anti-choice voters.

All of that going on in Fine Gael is down to Labour Party TDs and Ministers pushing Fine Gael on this.

As part of that, if Labour, their coalition partner, were to antagonise Fine Gael by supporting Clare Daly’s Bill and breaking with the Expert Group route, Fine Gael will not trust Labour and then there never will be any legislation because Fine Gael will not support it.

I also would like you to consider the way in which Dáil seats are divided up in this Dáil. Each seat in the Dáil is worth one vote.

Labour have 37 seats in the Dáil.
Fine Gael have 74 seats in the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil have 19 seats.
Sinn Féin have 14 seats.
Independents have 20 seats.
ULA have 4 seats.
The Ceann Comhairle has one vote – this vote is cast only in the event
of a tie.
If Fine Gael seats (ie, votes) are left out of the equation, there are not enough TDs who will support legislating for the X case. A number of the FF and Independent TDs are very pro-life – some will vote against legislating and others will simply not show up to vote at all.

Just 27 votes supported Clare Daly’s Bill last night. Even if all the Labour TDs had supported it, it still would have failed to pass.

In other words, for X case legislation to be passed without question in the Dáil, Fine Gael AND Labour are needed to support X case legislation when it comes down to a vote on in the Dáil because they have the most seats, and therefore, the most votes.

Fine Gael control Dáil Éirean and Labour supporting legislation alone will not get that legislation voted through.

Fine Gael are required.Over the next couple of weeks, there will be a debate on the Expert Group report. After that, the Government will decide what steps to take. I
am confident that there will be legislation on the X case and that it will happen within the next two or three months.

Yours sincerely,

Sean Kenny TD

Meanwhile: Daly May Table Third Bill (Irish Times)

106 thoughts on “Why I Voted No

    1. Mark Dennehy

      No, that’s the reality of the system of government.

      As to whether or not that system of government is fit for purpose, now that’s a different kind of question altogether.

    2. John Joe Brethren

      That’s actually a very honest answer from a politician. It should come as a surprise to nobody that politics is strategy; perhaps that explains Labour’s volte-face. It appears cowardly, but as a Phd politics students, I believe him. And, in fairness, there is little “politician-speak” here.

      1. Lou Mac

        Agreed. The acid test will come when the Expert group’s findings are revealed and they are forced to vote according to facts.

        1. Leela2011

          It was obvious it would be voted down again as there hasn’t been any consensus in cabinet. Daly changed little from the first draft, which wasn’t great in the first place. Nice to hear a detailed explanation in lay-mans language but scary how conservative Fine Gael appear to be. Do they really want moderate people voting for Sinn Fein and ULA now??

          1. Niall

            Or how about Labour say support this fully or we leave and bring the government down?

            That seems the most moral way of doing things.

          2. lordarpad

            So bringing down the government and thus giving FG the chance to avoid legislating on the issue and in extremis postponing the whole issue till we have another Savita is the most moral option? Interesting idea of morals right there. Yes, politics is a mucky business and this is a glaring example. But the _moral_ thing to do is to get X-case legislation passed without regard for you lily-white vest.

      1. KeithFahey's moustache.

        I read it as I have read the explanations the first time this was rejected to. Just look at the list of TD’S that didn’t even bother to turn up including our brave leader!

        If he was so sure it wouldn’t pass but was interested in bringing attention to the legislation voting Yes and losing the whip would have been a great statement.

        But hey its easier to go with the whip and make sure that seat will have your bum on it ext tie round

        1. rayray

          Sure what was i thinking, I’d rather lose my job than wait a few months and pass a daycent piece of leglislation with enough of a mandate to give it clout.

          I think we’re past needing to ‘birng attention’ to this issue.

        2. Commonsense

          Moronic statement – he would be an idiot to throw his job to the wind “to call attention” to an issue that now has the attention of the nation and will be legislated for very soon.

          Admit it, you just wish to go on a rant session

    1. Nej

      To be fair, I read it, and I totally understand his reasoning.

      It’s very nice that he took the time to explain the various factors he has to deal with, and it was nice to give data (ie: seat numbering, who is leaning where etc). I have to say, respect to this fella.

      1. KeithFahey's moustache.

        I despise C.Daly but to give her some dues this legislation that she put the house was fairly solid.

          1. Commonsense

            +300 – it wouldn’t have passed muster with the supreme court, and if you think that the likes of the Youth Defence lunatics aren’t going to use their vast amounts of US donated money to challenge whatever comes out of this then I have a bridge to sell you.

            That is why this needs to be water-tight. Far moreso than the Daly bill, which was optics and nothing more

      2. Jess

        +1, my thoughts exactly. It’s so refreshing to see a politician honestly talking about what looks to most of us like mere shenanigans.

  1. sickofallthisbs

    You guys are such a bunch of morons. Here we have somebody with a bit more political awareness and knowledge of the machinations of government explaining how you are going to get what you want and yet you still aren’t happy. Spoiled little children.

    1. cross-eyed cow

      He’s not going to get FG to support legislation. He knows this, but he’s trying to cynically be on both sides of the question at once.

      He’s like a mother explaining to a child that we’ll have to ask daddy about going to Disneyland.

      When the news comes back bad, and the child is angry with their father, they can always count on a cuddle from mammy to make them feel better.

      1. TheCitizen

        He’s a f**king politician people.

        Gathering consensus and getting stuff passed can’t be done by whining like some of the muppets on here.

        (I really had to try hard not to put the first sentence in capitals. One f**king issue raises it’s head and suddenly everyone is interested in politics. How many people that “marched’ to the dail over the last few weeks voted in the children’s referendum?)

        1. oscarthefuzz

          Do you really think Fine Gael is going to support ANY bill even if the expert group said the fututre of the country depended on it I don’t think they would?

          1. Leela2011

            they would be utter fools if they let this one slip. they really need to come up with a viable alternative to Daly’s bill, there are no excuses at this stage

        2. Kennz

          I’d imagine a fair few, me for one and supported it though it seemed like a flawed amendment because I want the best for children in foster care who may have the opportunity to be adopted into a loving family. I wish my government would give similar consideration to my well being and support Clare Daly’s bill.

    2. Bangalore

      No it doesn’t. If Fine Gael are ‘very conservative’ and wont vote for this because of what the bill contains then they are only going to pass something which has much tighter controls, which is not what the pro choice movement want.

      Whats clear is that the government parties just want to put their own name on it.

  2. Ruairí

    In fairness to him, at least its a coherent reply that treats her like an adult. And he more or less is upfront about the political chicanery they are up too.

    1. curmudgeon

      Agreed. The man stated his reasons for the way he voted and outlined what way he believes the manner will be resolved. All this without doublespeak. Now whether you agree with this is another thing but the fact is; he accounted for himself.

    1. Kath

      I also expected a boilerplate letter written by someone else but this reads as something he actually could have personally written/dictated.

    2. rotide

      Great response, pity he didnt mention the problems with Daly’s bill and why people should be very glad it was voted down.

      Lets hope theres a lot more like him that can influence the debates regarding the report and we can finally have some bloody legislation

        1. Leela2011

          As a lay-person who has no clue about legislation, reading it I thought there were alot of holes in it which could lead to problems. For instance, not requiring permission from parents if girl wants termination etc. Can’t remember exact words but some people would have issues with that. I actually agree with most of it, just spotted some things that actually take away from what it’s supposed to be doing in first place.

  3. Blobster

    Sean Kenny: Look I support you but have to work in the real world

    (Some) Pro-choicers: Ah just give us legislation….any legislation at all……..quick

  4. Mrs Stapleton

    That was a good email, and sound that he set out the politics of it all.

    The last thing we need after decades of no action is a flawed piece of legislation.

    1. Rufty

      ^^^ This a thousand times over. Very few other pro-choice advocates actually read Clare Daly’s Bill and when I said I didn’t support it (and almost got lynched) I had to explain for ages as to why it was a crap piece of legislation that would have created as many problems as it was aiming to solve. At the end of the day I’m happy to wait for air-tight, binding legislation that will move us forward as a country, not just a populist stop-gap measure.

  5. Pedanto

    Why can’t this idiot see that we need hurried legislation now, in Narnia, without this sick compromise with reality? Shame, etc!

    1. woesinger

      Look Pedanto – you’re not going to persuade me to buy a ticket to an Aslan reunion gig – no matter how many subliminal cues you put in your comments! Get out of my head, you monster!

  6. Clampers Outside!

    I got a very similar response from Michael Conaghan prior to the vote explaining why he was intending to vote no (Labour – Dublin South Central constituency). It is a reasoned response.

    Still waiting for a response from Catherine Byrne (FG) on why she abstained or was absent.

    1. graven

      Didn’t get anything back from Conaghan, Catherine Byrne or Eric Byrne. Ignoring constituents as well as issues.

      1. Leela2011

        last time bill was brought up, I got replies from Conaghan and Eric Byrne. Nothing from FG. Also got onto Bacik about holes in legislation and she got back quick too. Perhaps there are alot more people emailing this time around

  7. octo

    Good email and fair play to Sean Kenny. I wonder if he realised at the time that his email would be published on the internet. His frankness could create problems for him. Lisa, did you have his permission?

    1. Lisa Powell

      Oireachtas email policy and disclaimer
      Email memos and any attached files transmitted from the email system of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission are intended solely for the addressee. They may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Any review, re-transmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon this information by persons or entities, other than the intended recipient, is prohibited.

      If you have received an email memo in error, please contact the sender and delete the material from all computers and storage devices.

      No contract is created or implied by email memos originating from the email system of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

      Views expressed in this memo or in attachments thereto are not necessarily those of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

      It is the policy of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to disallow the sending of offensive material and should you consider that the material contained in a message originating in the Oireachtas is offensive you should in the first instance contact the sender. Thereafter, if necessary, you may forward a copy of the email memo to

      Email memos are checked for viruses before transmission to external networks, but no liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this email memo.

      1. octo

        Thanks Lisa. Regarding this bit “…are intended solely for the addressee”, that would indicate you betrayed his confidentiality, no?

        1. No Fun

          Did you read everything before and after that? She requested the information in the e-mail she is free to distribute it.

          There’s no confidentiality stipulated in engaging with public representatives by the public.

          1. octo

            I don’t understand your comment. Are you referring the the footer on the bottom of his email? The first paragraph seems pretty clear to me. What does requesting information have to do with it?

          2. No Fun

            Apologies for lack of clarity, the footer at the bottom is standard boilerplate material intended to give senders a defense if the e-mail is used against them.

            As he is a public representative engaging with a public request from a member of the public confidentiality is pretty much nonexistent.

            It’s fairly toothless, to be honest, and he engaged with a member of the public on an issue affecting the public so these views should be representative of his public views; not private confidential matters.

            This isn’t a privacy issue, no matter how you spin it.

            If you really want to go down that road you may have to leave a similar comment below every single article that begins with “We were sent this by e-mail…”

        1. No Fun

          He was elected by us (well, not me, someone else) and is a public representative of the people.

          You don’t need his permission to release this e-mail.
          He needs your permission to to release info you sent to him, but when he is freely engaging with the electorate no such promise of confidentiality exists.
          He knows this, so does Lisa, they engaged in a discourse.
          She sent that public information forward and he will probably be thankful that he doesn’t have to copy and paste this response so many times to every single person in the country.

          1. octo

            I think it’s bad form to publish emails on a public forum without consent. He’s an elected representative and a civil servant, not a slave!

          2. No Fun

            It’s not bad form. It’s a politician, these are his views as expressed by him to a member of the public to whom he is ultimately accountable.
            In fact, a member of the public is who he is supposed to be accountable to.

            There’s no element of slavery here, he’s an elected representative and a civil servant.

  8. AMC

    It’s obviously heavily bias towards bigging-up Labour, but a lot of what he said doesn’t seem *entirely* unreasonable; we all know there’s political shenanigans going on here. Lose the battle to win the war n’ all that.

    I still won’t give my support to Labour again mind you, but at the rate I’m dropping support of parties I’ll be left with no one to vote for :)

    I never read Dalys proposed legislation so can’t comment on how much better / worse / blah it would have been compared with the Expert Groups recommendations mind you

  9. Nially

    Look, fair play to him and all for actually writing out an explanation (though wow, the “one seat equals one vote” bit sure is partonising as fuck), but all the “See, Labour really *are* the good guys, and anyone who thinks otherwise lives in Narnia!” posters can jog right the hell on.

    It’s not laudable for them as a party that they support legislating for rights that already exist. That that isn’t the status quo is disgusting; that they’re still too conservative and cowardly to push for more than that says a huge amount about them as the theoretically major left-wing party of Irish politics. In general, that they were willing to kick this issue to expert group in the first place, that they’re perfectly OK with FG postponing action on the outcome of that expert group for as long as possible and that not one of them thinks this issue is important enough to break ranks and make reasonably strong public statements about it is why people are so angry with them. They’re going to be crushed in the next election, and they have no one to blame but themselves.

    1. ferg

      crushed in the next general election……….
      to be replaced by?
      Fianna Fail? the f**kers who got us here after 70+ years of mismanagement?
      Fine Gael? the people you’re really angry at?
      Sinn Fein? Who have the actual blood of thousands of Irish citizens on their hands?
      Greens? Who were far more spineless in government if you remember?
      Independents? Who are a mixed bag of brilliant and batshit crazy, and who find it impossible to get things done?
      If they are going to be crushed for making political compromises to get some of their agenda across the line in the long run, then good luck with the gobshites who’ll come in to replace them.
      Grow up.

    2. BLC

      They “kicked the issue to an expert group” to get an expert opinion which will help to convince the waverers and put things on a much calmer footing than the usual abortion debate. There’s no evidence that they want to wait “as long as possible”, and Kenny says they have hurried things up.

      What exactly is it you want them to do differently?

  10. Padjo

    It’s a fairly sad indictment of the public’s understanding of our political system that this response isn’t bleedin obvious to them.

  11. Ruairí

    If Labour just publicly articulated their position like this guy just did they’d be getting a lot less grief.

    Not that they are redeemable at this stage…

    1. BLC

      It’s not exactly hard to figure out what they’re doing. Kenny is risking alienating the party he’s in government with, and he shouldn’t have had to.

  12. Katie

    I think people are giving this man brownie points for merely responding to an email. His response is clearly unsatisfactory. He’s explaining why he chose to cast a vote which didn’t honestly reflect his own opinion or the opinion of the many people who have organised numerous demonstrations on this issue. What a disgusting, dishonest way to conduct yourself.

    1. shitferbrains

      “or the opinion of the many people who have organised numerous demonstrations on this issue”

      That people have demonstrated is not quite the same thing as ” the ” people have demonstrated. “The ” people are solidly Catholic and anti-abortion.

    2. ferg

      This is unbelievably childish and shows zero understanding of the way a parliamentary democracy based on political parties works. How do you think anything gets done? How could you legislate for anything if you worked on the basis of “everyone vote the way they feel on this”? You think it’s shit now, try that.
      I’m sorry. Trying so hard to avoid being condescending, but you’re making it so difficult…….

    3. lordarpad

      So, what do you want? functioning legislation? Or just the man showing “spine”. Me, I am for functioning legislation. And in the face of the actually disgusting party here FG, who would much rather not do anything, doing what one needs to do in the face of getting dirty – that actually takes spine. A lot thereof.

  13. RealWorld

    Things will never change here …. no one in Labour has the courage to step up and be counted.

    Long live Enda and remember how Labour vote when it comes to the next election.

    1. BLC

      “I want you to lay down the whip, Kenny. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the debate.”

    2. Dave

      Not sure if … sarcasm … but…

      Why take it out on the party that has to deal with the actual problem – FG? Why not take it out on FG?

      I don’t vote along party lines, but this kind of reasoning has always boggled my mind.

  14. steve white

    clare daly bill could still be used as starting point there are 9 more steps in the route of a bill, kenny knows that

    In other words, for X case legislation to be passed without question in the Dáil

    i thought the point of the dail was question debate, shaping legislation

    1. Rebecca

      Yeah but that’s his point – he knows that, I know that, but FG do not want that and that’s where the problem lies.

  15. Bliao

    Sean Kenny is the only TD in my constituency to acknowledge and respond to my misty, whiskey fuelled late night email rants

  16. Kim V

    Thanks so much, Lisa, for bringing this to light.

    To be honest, I’m so relieved. To hear that there are people in the Dail who *know* it’s time to move forward – and who are committed enough to it to actually have taken time and done the math and figured out how to get the result they want.

    When I saw how the vote had come out, I hoped, frankly, that it was because people in there had a plan and NOT because the Dail was a freakshow gallery of conservatives.

    Thank god.

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