Taoiseach Bows to Abortion Campaigners
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promptly changed his plans for an abortion referendum after complaints from pro-abortion groups. Instead of holding the referendum next Summer, Mr Varadkar now plans to hold it sooner.
Pro-abortion groups campaigning for the repeal of the 8th Amendment had expressed anger at the Taoiseach’s previously stated intention to hold an abortion referendum in midsummer next year. They said they were concerned that fewer younger voters would be around to vote at that time, believing that younger voters are more likely to support the pro-abortion side.
Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, said the vote should take place “in May at the latest” because younger voters tend to go abroad for the summer.
Ailbhe Smyth of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment described the Taoiseach’s plan as “extremely worrying” and said holding the referendum in the summer months, when many students go abroad, “would effectively mean disenfranchising thousands of young people”.
The Taoiseach responded by pledging to take student concerns about the timing of the upcoming abortion referendum into account when setting a date for the vote. He said Government was planning a referendum in May or June 2018 and if a referendum on the Eighth Amendment did not take place before the summer it would happen in the latter part of the year.
Mr Varadkar was asked if he was aware many students wanted to see the vote take place outside the summer months. “I definitely take the point and get the message that young people would like to have a referendum at a time that they are in the country so they can fully participate. So we will absolutely take that into account in setting a date.”
The Irish Times. August 4. The Sunday Times. July 30.