By Susan Gately - 27 January, 2014
Politicians experience respect from public for sticking to their principles
Terence Flanagan, former Fine Gael TD, has “absolutely no regrets” over voting against the government’s ‘Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill’, even if it meant losing the Parliamentary party whip.
“I feel very liberated by the way I voted,” he said, “That did express my true opinion as to how I feel – I am totally opposed to abortion in all shapes and form.”
Speaking to CatholicIreland during the Reform Alliance gathering on Saturday which drew over a thousand people to the RDS in Dublin, he said that the seven politicians behind Reform Alliance had drawn respect over the stand they had taken.
“I think there’s been a lot of respect for us as politicians, that we are seen as the ones who are courageous and willing to stand up for what we actually believe in.” Mr Flanagan said he had been “very disappointed” with his own party Fine Gael. “Sadly they did a U-turn on this.
They had given an express commitment to the people of Ireland and I had followed that up with letters to constituents to say that Fine Gael was opposed to abortion. So it came as a shock and a surprise to me that the Taoiseach allowed our party to go into that space which was already occupied by the other party in government, the Labour Party.” He went on: “So Fine Gael abandoned our roots and our values, and that was a very sorry day as far as I was concerned, I was disappointed.”
Lucinda Creighton TD, the former Minister of State for European Affairs, said she had no regrets about her decision either and it was an easy one. “I just knew I wasn’t going to vote for the legislation,” she told CatholicIreland, “so it was kind of stressful but ultimately it wasn’t a difficult decision.”
She was thrilled by the high turnout at Reform Alliance’s first meeting. “When we started out, we were hoping for maybe 300, so we’ve gone way above what we expected and we’re very pleased.”
“Today is fantastic,” said Terence Flanagan, TD for Dublin Dublin North East. “It has given us a great lift to see so many people here, it is full to capacity and there’s great energy, enthusiasm around. We’ve got a good mix of old, young and mature people. They’re getting an opportunity to put across their points of view and they seldom get that opportunity.”
Lucinda Creighton said the Saturday meeting was a “first step” in terms of “gathering ideas from the public”. “I think we will certainly take this style of meeting – maybe on a smaller scale- to regional centres and we will develop policies and launch a common platform on certain issues during the next number of months,” she said.
The thirty four year old currently represents the people of Dublin South East as an Independent TD. Married to Senator Paul Bradford, who was also expelled from Fine Gael for voting against the abortion bill, she is expecting her first child in March.