Pro-abortion FG Senator Catherine Noone, who previously led a one-woman crusade to silence ice-cream vans and force bakers rewrite all cake recipes to less than 20% sugar content formula, has been elected chair of the Oireachtas Committee that is considering the report on abortion from the government’s Citizens’ Assembly.
Noone was the only candidate for the position despite the fact that her party colleague, Senator Jerry Buttimer, a pro-abortion social radical who helped Enda Kenny get the 2013 Abortion Bill passed, wanted the role. Buttimer was a prominent supporter of Simon Coveney's failed bid for FG leadership; Noone supported Leo Varadkar.
The twenty-one member committee has a large majority of pro-abortion Oireachtas members with only four pro-life members, Mattie McGrath TD (Ind), Anne Rabbitte TD (FF), James Brown TD (FF) and Sen Ronan Mullen (Ind). Sinn Fein's Jonathan O'Brien has stated that while he is “personally opposed to abortion” he will “follow the party line” in the committee.
Fianna Fáil's first two nominees were the pro-abortion TDs Billy Kelleher and Lisa Chambers and the committee includes the radical abortion activists Ruth CoppingerTD (Ind), Clare Daly TD (Ind), and Senator Lynne Ruane TD. Kate O'Connell TD, who replaced Lucinda Creighton on the FG ticket in the Dublin South East constituency, running on the slogan “Give Choice a Voice” is also a member. Her party colleagues, Bernard Durkan TD and Peter Fitzpatrick TD, are considered less radical though both voted for the 2013 Abortion Bill.
The committee is to consider the report of the so-called Citizens’ Assembly, whose extreme pro-abortion recommendations, including abortion ‘without restriction’ and on socio-economic grounds, was found to be seriously out of kilter with the public in polls for the Irish Times and the Times.
Pro-abortion campaigners seem very concerned that any abortion referendum be held before the visit of Pope Francis, scheduled to happen for the World Meeting of Families in August 2018. The Oireachtais Committee may not report until Christmas, leaving a very tight schedule for Dáil consideration of any proposals if the referendum is to be held in the first half of 2018.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has agreed to Catherine Zappone's suggestion that a parallel Government process be set up to speed up the referendum preparations by examining referendum wordings and the abortion legislation that is to be offered to persuade the electorate to get rid of the constitutional protection for the unborn that exists now. This move effectively makes the Oireachtas committee irrelevant except as a PR exercise, since the government will have its own proposals. The Attorney General Seamus Wolff will work with the government's secret committee to advance the abortion cause on the Taoiseach's instructions. Varadkar is committed to abortion despite his earlier pro-life stance and promise of a “warm welcome for social conservatives in Fine Gael”.
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