Ms Sherlock added it was “cruel and unjust” that TDs with conscientious objections are being pressured and bullied to tow the party line. “The Government has a duty to give the public an opportunity to hear the bill debated properly. The Pro Life Campaign challenges the Minister for Health to a public debate on the contents of the bill and what it would mean in practice, before it reaches the final stage in the Dáil.”
The Bill has now moved to the Committee Stage and the Select Sub-Committee on Health which convened on Tuesday evening. Select Sub-Committee Chairman, Jerry Buttimer TD said the members will have the opportunity to propose and discuss amendments to the legislation as published. Almost 90 amendments have been proposed for the Bill, which will each be voted on as it goes through the Committee Stage.
The Four Fine Gael TDs who voted against the Second Stage of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill were:
Peter Mathews (Dublin South),
Terence Flanagan (Dublin North-East)
Within minutes of the vote the Fine Gael TD’s were expelled from the party and asked to vacate their offices. Moves were made to remove them from the committees they serve in. Fine Gael TDs may also be barred from running for election for their party in the next election.
“I’m disappointed from the point of view that we didn’t ever fight any election campaign on the basis that we would do this,” said Mr Billy Timmins. “It wasn’t in the programme for government.” He said he did not vote against his party but rather he voted with his conscience.
Mr Brian Walsh said he would like to run again for the party. “I’m happy I did the right thing. It’s not the most popular thing,” he said.
One Sinn Féin TD voted against the Bill – Meath West’s Peadar Tóibín. He also faces disciplinary action for not voting with his party on the matter.
Thirteen Fianna Fáil TDs voted against the bill and this party had a free vote policy including:
Seamus Kirk (Louth)
John Browne (Wexford)
Charlie McConalogue (Donegal North East),
Sean Ó Fearghail (Kildare South)
Robert Troy (Longford-Westmeath)
Seán Fleming (Laois Offaly)
Michael Healy-Rae (Kerry South),
Mattie McGrath (Tipperary South)
Colm Keaveney (Galway East)