Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe
Further to yesterday evening’s publication of the new Programme for Government.
Newly appointed Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe discussed the document with presenter Cathal MacCoille on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
In relation to abortion, the Programme for Government states:
We will establish a Citizens’ Assembly, within six months, and without participation by politicians, and with a mandate to look at a limited number of key issues over an extended time period. These issues will not be limited to those directly pertaining to the constitution and may include issues such as, for example how we, as a nation, best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population.
That said, we will ask the Citizens’ Assembly to make recommendations to the Dáil on further constitutional changes, including on the Eighth Amendment, on fixed term parliaments and on the manner in which referenda are held (e.g. should ‘super referendum days’, whereby a significant number of referenda take place on the same day, be held).
None of this, of course, subverts the right, and the ability of an elected member of Dáil Eireann to have a referendum on any issue, provided that member can secure majority support in parliament.
Mr MacCoille raised this with the Fine Gael TD.
Paschal Donohoe: “The Fine Gael position on that [repealing the 8th amendment] during the general election continues to be the case. We are committed to putting in place the same process that we did in relation to marriage equality that led to a referendum there. So what we will set up will be a Citizens’ Assembly to deliberate on the matter that will then lead to proposals that the Oireachtas would then consider and vote upon.”
Cathal MacCoille: “Or not. There might be no referendum?”
Donohoe: “My expectation is that there will be one and the process that we have put in place is designed to look at, what is a sensitive matter for many, in a careful way but that continues to be a commitment of this Government.”
In response to Mr Donohoe’s comments, Irish Council for Civil Liberties executive director Mark Kelly says:
“Minister Donohoe’s announcement this morning would appear to be another direct outworking of Ireland’s appearance before the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, at which its restrictive abortion regime was harshly criticised.”
“The Convention on the Constitution model proved to be a highly-effective means of debating sensitive matters in an intelligent and nuanced way, leading to a cross-party consensus on proposals to be put to the people.”
“The Irish Council for Civil Liberties believes that it is now incumbent upon the Government to publish its full blueprint for the new Citizen’s Assembly on Repeal of the 8th Amendment that the Tánaiste yesterday promised the United Nations would be up and running within six months.”
Listen back in full here