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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001

Vol. 544 No. 3

An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Fiche ar an mBunreacht (Beatha Dhaonna le linn Toirchis a Chosaint), 2001: An Dara Céim (Atógáil). Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill, 2001: Second Stage (Resumed).

Atairgeadh an cheist: "Go léifear an Bille an Dara hUair anois."
Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I wish to share time with Deputy O'Kennedy. This Bill provides for constitutional and legislative reform in relation to the protection of human life in pregnancy. Its proposals, which represent the first legislative response to the legal issues remaining unresolved since the X case in 1992, are fair, reasonable and compassionate. The issue of abortion is a sensitive one for society and it is heartening that the response to the proposals to date has been of a measured, mature and thoughtful nature. There has been none of the rancour that characterised the debates in 1983 and 1992.

It is very important to acknowledge that the law alone cannot deal adequately with the often tragic realities of crisis pregnancy in modern society. On more than 6,500 occasions in the past year alone women giving an Irish address have had abortions in Great Britain. That is about 18 women every single day of the year. Of course many Irish women have made this journey in previous years also. The difficult circumstances faced by these women and the often lonely decision they have made demand sensitive understanding and a compassionate response from us all. We must also strive to reduce the incidence of crisis pregnancy by every reasonable means at our disposal. The law represents only one part of the picture. Education, advice, care and compassion are in many ways much more important. That is why a comprehensive approach is being adopted on the three different planes of Constitution, legislation and practical caring intervention.

The purpose of section 3 is to provide that a medical practitioner or any other person will not be obliged to carry out a procedure to which he or she has a conscientious objection, even though it may not constitute abortion under the Bill. Given that the Bill in effect simply provides legal protection for current medical practice, it is not expected that this provision will have any adverse effect on current practices. Section 4 deals with travel and information. The Bill will protect freedom to travel and the right to information in accordance with the existing provisions in the Constitution which were approved by the people in 1992. It also makes clear that a person shall not be restricted from travelling to another state on the grounds that his or her conduct there would be an offence under this Bill were it to occur in Ireland. The proposals in this Bill represent a fair and reasonable attempt to resolve the constitutional and legal difficulties that have surrounded the issue of abortion since the judgment in the X case in 1992. They are also the culmination of a lengthy and detailed process of consultation and debate. The time has come to move on from that and attempt to resolve the matter.

A pregnant woman should be entitled to whatever medical treatment she may need, even where this may unavoidably place the survival of her unborn child at risk. Any legal doubt about what is permissible in such circumstances must also be removed so that doctors will be able to continue to provide the necessary treatment in accordance with established medical practice. The Irish health care system has an enviable reputation when it comes to the care of expectant mothers and their children and the proposals in this Bill will protect current practice, not change it. A constitutional provision without legislative backing would run the major risk of subsequently being interpreted by the courts in an unanticipated manner. Therefore, the method the Government has chosen is the best way to ensure that safeguards are put in place which spell out straightforwardly what is and what is not allowed. The provisions can be amended only if the people so decide in a further referendum.

The proposed Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill spells out clearly and unambiguously what will be permitted under the law and describes the straightforward constitutional provisions which will govern any future amendment of the law. That means the electorate will have a clear understanding of the meaning and effect of the various provisions in advance of a referendum. The amendment is designed to acknowledge that the issue of abortion is one on which the people wish to have the final say while at the same time leaving the matter primarily in the legislative domain. The Bill will also remove any doubt there may be about the legality of treatment doctors might consider necessary where a pregnant woman suffers from certain rare, life-threatening medical conditions. It will provide certainty for doctors who may have feared that some interventions, although accepted medical practice in such circumstances, might have been unlawful.

Section 1 of the Second Schedule defines "abortion" for the purposes of the Bill as "the intentional destruction by any means of unborn human life after implantation in the womb of the woman". It provides exemption from the definition as abortion of a medical procedure carried out by a medical practitioner at an approved place in the course of which or as a result of which unborn human life is ended where that procedure is, in the reasonable opinion of the practitioner, necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk to the woman's life other than by self-destruction.

In the course of the hearing of medical evidence by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution it became very clear that in a small number of cases of strict and undeniable medical necessity intervention by doctors to safeguard the mother's life can entail or result in the ending of the life of the unborn. On reading the testimony of the all-party committee it becomes apparent that while there are differences of language and interpretation amongst members of the medical profession, their approach to the care of pregnant women and their unborn children is essentially the same. Their objective in all cases is to ensure that women receive all the medical care they need while affording maximum protection to the health of the unborn children.

If the people accept the proposal, the amendment to Article 43 will have effect only if the text of the envisaged Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill is enacted by the Oireachtas within a period of 180 days, otherwise the amendment in its entirety is nullified. The mechanism of making a constitutional amendment conditional on a later legal development was successfully used in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. The proposed constitutional changes on this occasion are designed to ensure that the legislation has a sound constitutional basis and that the careful balance it strikes will not be subject to legal challenge from either side of the argument. They are designed to reassure the people that they will be consulted if a change is proposed in the future.

A "yes" vote in the referendum on the Bill to amend the Constitution will give effect only to the constitutional amendments involved. The only way in which the terms of the legislation on the protection of human life in pregnancy can become law or have any effect is through a separate, subsequent decision by the Oireachtas to enact that legislation. While it may never be possible to satisfy every point of view or to devise a solution acceptable to all, the Government has sought, by fostering a reasonable, calm and structured national debate, to develop a consensus on how the issues arising from the X case and C case judgments might finally be resolved.

In 1997 the Government decided that a Green Paper on abortion would be prepared. This document was published in September 1999 and welcomed by many interested parties as a clear and balanced document, setting out as it did the history of the issues and the different arguments advanced while discussing the principal constitutional and legislative options. The Government referred the Green Paper to the All-Party Committee on the Constitution, chaired by Deputy Brian Lenihan, for consideration. The committee embarked on a process of detailed consultation seeking submissions on the options discussed in the Green Paper. Over 100,000 submissions were received from individuals and organisations. Subsequently the committee held hearings at which the issues were explored in detail with many of those who had made submissions, including representatives of the medical profession and the churches. The committee's proceedings and its report were published in November 2000 and generally agreed to be fair, balanced and of great value in educating and informing public and political opinion.

The proposals that the Government has launched give protection to the life of the unborn human. The purpose of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill is to provide for the amendment of the Constitution to state that the proposed Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy Bill, 2001, shall be the law on abortion in the State. The amendment provides for the operation of a mechanism whereby proposed changes to Article 43 of the Constitution and the text of the proposed legislation on the protection of human life in pregnancy will be put to the people in a referendum. It will also protect best medical practice and remove any doubt about the legality of treatment which doctors consider necessary in the case of rare, life-threatening conditions occurring during pregnancy. The issues have been explored in great depth before the committee. We have listened with open minds to the opinions of the people on the protection of the unborn. We have considered ways and means of advancing in a way that can command the support of all our people. I have consulted my constituents and have no doubt that the Bill, as published, is the best way forward. It is the only way forward.

I have always believed strongly that the unborn child must be afforded every possible legal protection by our society and its laws. My opinion in this regard has not changed in any way during the years. As one sadly observes the level of abortion in most contemporary cultures throughout the world, a most serious question must be asked of modern day standards and priorities.

The practice of abortion, to which I am opposed, is an attack on the innocent defenceless human being at a time of great vulnerability. The legislation before the House will give protection to the unborn child.

I regret that we have to take this legislation in the House at this stage. I do not mean this evening, but at this stage in the experience of our people. Having said that, I am implacably opposed to abortion, like so many other Members of the House.

I will now explain the reason I regret we have to take these steps to correct what is a totally unacceptable position. It is because of the consequences of the last referendum, the Supreme Court judgment that followed and the fact that, unfortunately, we allowed ourselves to be influenced at the time by zealous people – perhaps of good intentions – who wanted to have a constitution somewhere in the world that would actually be, as they saw it, an example of what they wanted to see in every other constitution. Unfortunately, their good intentions have given rise to very major complications, both in law and the Constitution, and not done anything to enhance the position of the unborn or, for that matter, protect the life of the mother to the maximum extent possible.

I am probably the only one in the House who attended the debates in the House of Commons in 1966. I personally heard David Steele introducing his legislation at the time, the purpose of which, as he stated it, was to clean up and regulate backstreet abortions, by way of bringing them under proper medical control. It was very desirable, as seen by the British public and British parliamentarians. David Steele said on the same night that if he thought that the consequence of his Private Members' Bill would be to introduce abortion on demand, he would withdraw it.

This demonstrates that when we mortals and legislators think we can tidy up matters that are very fundamental, we sometimes do the very opposite of what we intend to do. I wonder what David Steele's view now is on the intention of the Bill he introduced in a country where there is now, clearly, abortion on demand to the extent that it is also, obviously, having a major impact in Ireland. We are being told that our young women can go to England to avail of this facility, which is not available here.

My wish is that we could go back to the pre-1992 days when we had a very clear position before a lobby group persuaded the Government to bring forward an extraordinarily complex and unsuitable amendment. The Government and Opposition at the time, on the front benches, clearly indicated the risks of such an extraordinary introduction into our Constitution.

The Deputy said 1992. I think he meant 1981.

The Deputy is quite right. The position before that year had been very clear. There was a criminal offence created under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, in respect of which people had been prosecuted and convicted. This was in a minority of cases, but the legislation was in place. The people and courts knew the position and could interpret the law as it was. In addition, it has to be said that if someone said, "There was no particular provision in the Constitution to protect the rights of the unborn," his or her argument would be entirely fallacious.

It has long been established in our judicial judgments that there are rights – unenumerated rights – that are so essential that they precede all judicial decisions. Judicial determinations have to take account of these rights. Examples of such rights are the rights to fresh air and clean water – rights that do not need to be stated in the Constitution. It is my conviction that the right to life of the unborn was clearly in that category until the zealots arrived and told us that they wanted a special provision.

What was the consequence of this? The consequence – which I notice even in this Bill, about which I have reservations – was that all of us were party to a judicial determination that we had the right to travel. Imagine, in a democratic society, the need to proclaim the right to travel, particularly in this democratic society, where countless millions of our people have exercised it. Who has the right, under any circumstances, to prevent someone travelling outside the jurisdiction? If the totalitarian states of the former communist countries had introduced such an amendment, it would have made some sense in their case, because the right to travel was never available to any citizen, be they pregnant women or anyone else. As a consequence of much nonsense, we introduced the right to travel to our Constitution, a provision about which I still have reservations as it is totally unnecessary.

Believe it or not, we have another right, the right to information. Is anyone suggesting that, in a democracy such as ours, there is not the right to information? Do we also have to write it into the Constitution?

I regret, for the reasons I have just stated, the need to discuss and enact the legislation before us. Having said that, it is about the best that can be done to attempt to correct the mistakes we have made as a consequence of making unnecessary concessions. As I said, I am implacably opposed to abortion. The legal advice given to those who saw their opportunity and their right to create what they saw as an absolutely foolproof legal provision was wrong. I will not listen to any of them now presenting themselves as legal experts, a point to which I will return. Some of them still hold views as to when life begins revolving around definitions of implantation and conception.

It is very important that what we do is done within our scope and competence. The Bill, imperfect though it is, is about the most perfect instrument we can introduce at this stage to correct what is a very confusing and unsatisfactory situation. Those who now present themselves as medical or legal experts – some present themselves as both – are walking on the head of a pin in relation to the distinction between implantation and conception—

They are usually all men.

Whoever they may be, will they, please, save us from the consequences of their particular medico-legal interpretation, which has put us into the mess in which we now find ourselves?

This is about the best possible attempt, reserving the right of the Oireachtas to give effect, after 180 days, to the constitutional amendment. It is also imperfect, but the best that can be done because of the awful amendment we introduced some time ago. We talk about rights, particularly those of children before birth. The right to life is an absolute right. Each other right we have under our law and Constitution can be regulated and qualified in the legislation we pass. This Bill does that as effectively as it possibly can in the circumstances.

This is a subject on which people hold, and in a democracy are entitled to hold, fundamentally divergent positions based on different value systems. It will never be possible to devise legal formulae that reconcile fundamentally different value systems so the key is to be tolerant, to respect the opinions of others but without being afraid to proclaim one's own. In my contribution, I will explain why the Government should accept the Fine Gael amendment, explore some of the suggested defects in this Bill and how they could be put right, explain why it is essential that those who reject the Bill totally be required to table their own alternative proposals and try to deal with how the philosophy of human rights applies to this case – when does a child become human and when does it acquire human rights.

The Government may be making a mistake in introducing this Bill so late in the life of this Dáil. It is always easier in a hasty referendum to get people to vote No. People can be persuaded, often wrongly, that if they vote No, nothing changes. This will be very wrong in this case. A No vote in this referendum is likely to change everything and that is why the Taoiseach's strategy is risky. A second No vote to an alteration of the X case judgment would create greater pressure on the Dáil to introduce substantive legislation to permit abortion in the circumstances of the X case, namely where there is a probability of a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother from her own hand. Such legislation would raise many difficulties but these difficulties are not now on the table, are not now being debated and the people are not aware of them. The jurisprudence of the X case allows for abortion to take place at any time up to birth.

As has been stated by a leading psychiatrist, John Sheehan, there is no fail-safe way of saying or testing whether a person will commit suicide. The British Rowlinson inquiry said that to perform an abortion on this psychiatric ground was not only questionable in terms of compliance with the law but put women at risk of suffering a psychiatric disturbance after abortion. Psychiatrists would not want to be the blame-takers under such legislation for a political decision or, indeed, for a decision of the people. This is clear from the testimony of Dr. Anthony Clare, quoted earlier in the debate.

These problems will become very obvious if legislation to implement the terms of the judgment in the X case were tabled but they are invisible now. People are not seeing the whole picture, only the criticisms of the present proposal. That is why there is wisdom in the reasoned amendment put forward by Deputy Gay Mitchell. The three months delay proposed by him would allow those in this House who do not favour the Government's proposals and who want to vote against them the time to come forward with their own proposals. These alternatives could then be rigorously tested in debate alongside the Government's proposals. At the moment, it is only necessary for critics to criticise.

A big advantage of the Fine Gael approach is that a three months delay would allow the crisis pregnancy agency to be fully operational before the Dáil finishes its work on this Bill and to be making a real impact before the people vote in the referendum. This must be done urgently in any event but it would create a much more positive atmosphere for the decision and it would reduce the risk of misinformation and unanswered questions inducing people who might otherwise like to vote "yes", to vote "no". The Taoiseach should know by now how difficult it is to get people to vote "yes" in any referendum. He tried to adopt a fairly hands-off approach to Nice and we are only now beginning to experience the problems that has caused for this country.

I was intrigued to hear Deputy Conor Lenihan say in regard to the referendum on the Bill that in this case politicians should not canvass vigorously or aggressively. That is code for saying that he is not going to canvass at all. If that happens and if others follow him, then there will certainly be a "no" majority to the Government's proposals. This is another argument for the more deliberate approach suggested by Deputy Gay Mitchell. It will give us time to ensure that the key values issues at stake are not unnecessarily clouded by avoidable technical questions. Many voters are so busy nowadays that they only focus on a referendum question in the last seven days before polling. The scope for scare tactics during that time frame is enormous. That is why maximum public political testing of any Bill and of its opponent's alternatives should take place before the matter is put to the people. The Government is making a mistake and is compounding that mistake today.

This issue is a difficult one. We are dealing with two lives, the life of the mother and the life of a child in the womb. Both are alive but one is someone we know, someone to whom we can speak, someone for whom we can feel, someone we may love. The other person remains almost an abstraction and we use abstract words like "foetus" and "unborn"– as if all of us in this House were the undead – to describe this life. Yet it is a life and a life that has human rights, a life with great potential.

I studied the contributions of all the Members to this debate. Deputy Shatter asked with great sense why nothing had been done in the past four years to make adoption, as an alternative to abortion, more attractive. I agree with him. That could have been addressed by the Government and the Taoiseach in the past four years and it could be addressed in the next three months if Deputy Mitchell's proposal was accepted.

In many contributions, a tolerance was shown towards speakers with other viewpoints. Deputy O'Sullivan, in particular, said that although she did not share their opinion, she genuinely respected the view of people who feel the threat of suicide could be used by somebody who wanted an abortion for a reason the majority of Irish people would feel inappropriate. Other Deputies, however, suggested that to even hold such a view was "not to trust women". The difficulty here is that any law other than one based on the woman being free to chose abortion without any constraint is one which could be attacked on that ground – of not trusting women. Any abortion law other than one based on abortion on demand would involve professionals, some of whom are likely to be men, making judgments about whether a woman who wants an abortion should be allowed to have one. That problem is not peculiar to this Bill.

A number of Deputies said that as a result of this Bill, a woman's life will no longer be equal to that of the foetus. This statement is not correct. In the case of medical risk, the legislation seems, quite rightly, to give priority to the life of the mother over the life of the child in the womb. If a threatened suicide were to be a ground for abortion, there is a possibility that the threat might be fulfilled. If, however, an abortion takes place in those circumstances, there is not a possibility but an absolute certainty that the life of the child in the womb will be ended.

A concern has been expressed that the Bill will give a blank cheque to the medical profession in ethical matters. I doubt if this is true. The Constitution is read as a whole by the courts and I do not believe that the medical profession could interpret the provision of this Bill in a fashion that runs counter to Article 43.3 which remains in the Constitution and which is merely supplemented by this new article. If this fear of a blank cheque is genuine, then the medical circumstances where a termination is to be permitted could be explicitly listed in the Bill. Any Deputy who has that fear has the obligation to put forward such an amendment. Likewise, if, as some Deputies believe, there are concerns about unregistered medical practitioners conducting abortions under the Bill or about either unduly restrictive or unduly liberal lists of places at which terminations may take place being provided for by ministerial regulation under the Bill, then those concerns too should be addressed by introducing greater certainty by means of amend ments. Those who make those criticisms have an obligation to put forward such amendments.

Some might say introducing such amendments would introduce too much detail indirectly into the Constitution and would be too inflexible. If that is their view, they cannot at the same time then complain that the proposal is uncertain. In all law-making, there is always a trade off between detail and flexibility. The more detail one has, the less flexibility and the less detail, the more flexibility. It is as simple as that. In any event, the Oireachtas, contrary to the view of some speakers in this debate, has a right to intervene and introduce further amendments to this legislation after it has been adopted by the people. The only restriction is that these amendments would have to be approved by the people in a referendum. Given that we have had a number of constitutional referenda in recent times, that is not an insurmountable obstacle.

Some argue against the proposal on grounds that it is riddled with uncertainty. Others say that introducing detailed legislation is cumbersome and unnecessary. Although one speaker seemed to adopt both points of view in the course of his speech, both positions simply cannot be true. If we want certainty, we must have detail. If we want detail, we must have legislation. If we want legislation to alter an existing Supreme Court decision, that legislation must amend the Constitution. It is that simple.

The Government will not withdraw this Bill. Members and each voter will eventually be faced with a decision. It is our job to offer them the best possible one. The Government's guillotine approach is not a good idea. The suggestion made by Deputy Quinn on the Order of Business is a good one and will allow the type of debate needed. Legislation to give effect to the X case is not the way to go. It would leave the life of an unborn child dependant on a subjective judgment taken by a mother in extremely stressful conditions, a judgment which might be bitterly regretted. Such legislation might provide for one, two or three psychiatrists to sign certificates but the only certainty is that when all is done the child will no longer be in the womb, the child will be dead. That is a hard and hurtful thing to say but it is, unfortunately, true. It is a certainty, not a possibility. Such legislation would definitely end one life without necessarily saving the other.

I do not believe the potential weaknesses of legislation to implement the X case can be remedied by skilled drafting. The fundamentally subjective nature of the suicide risk makes that impossible. This brings me back to human rights considerations. There is a United Nations declaration on human rights. As a nation with a written Constitution, we pride ourselves on the protection we give to human rights and we promote them throughout the world. How does the concept of human rights apply to this Bill? What are the human rights of the mother? Is the child in the womb human? If it is not human, what is it? If it is human, is its human right to life to be pro tected by law or are all its human rights to be entirely dependant on the decision of its mother in all circumstances? This is the core issue. Is a human right something intrinsic or is a human right something that is only granted to someone who can speak up for themselves, someone who can go to court? A child in the womb cannot go to court. That child is entirely dependant on someone else acting on its behalf. I believe human rights are intrinsic and are not dependant on one being able to go to court. I further believe that State involvement in human rights issues is justified precisely because some human rights cannot be left to people taking private legal actions.

If the State is to be involved in human rights at all, then surely it must protect, above all others, the right to life. Without that right, all other human rights cannot be exercised. That is why I say this issue goes to the heart of our concept of human rights. Furthermore – and this is important – the extent to which the State should protect a human right should be greater the less the ability of the person concerned to protect his or her rights. That is common sense. The child in the womb cannot go to court to protect its rights. This brings one on to the next question. Is the child in the womb human and is it therefore entitled to human rights protection? We all know from medical and psychological studies that the child can feel pain. We know that what happens to the child in the womb can influence its future life not only medically but also psychologically. This is already recognised in civil law in all jurisdictions. The victims of thalidomide had their human rights vindicated on the basis of things that happened to them before they were born.

It is clear, therefore, that we are human before we are born. If our Constitution deals with human rights at all, it should extend to those as yet unborn. I do not agree, therefore, with the revisionist assertion that we could have got away in the longer term with having a Constitution that protected the right to life of the born but not the unborn. The courts sooner or later would have been forced to the conclusion that the child in the womb is human and is therefore entitled to constitutional human rights protection, if such exists.

Some argue it is hypocritical to provide constitutional protection for the unborn life while allowing or even encouraging women to travel freely to Britain thereby dumping our problem on another country. I accept fully that the pressure for abortion here would have been much more intense if Britain were located 600 miles away rather than 60 miles. At the end of the day we must do what we believe is right whether Britain is 60, 600 or 6,000 miles away. That is what self Government is about. Surely no one is suggesting that in order not to be accused of hypocrisy we should copy British law in all matters so that Irish people can travel to Britain to avail of British law.

The Government's proposals deserve to be seriously debated with serious alternatives and amendments put forward. The electorate are too mature, too well educated for politicians to make each-way bets on this issue. To those who will say the Government's proposals must be rejected, I repeat my challenge: come forward with your own proposals; come forward with your own legislation to deal with the difficult cases mentioned – suicide, rape, incest, poverty, job loss, mental illness and say then how those proposals are reconciled with your concept of human rights, the human rights of women and the child in the womb. The people can, then, begin to make a real judgment.

Over the past four years, the Government has engaged in a long and complex process to consider all sides of the issues related to abortion, medical interventions in the course of pregnancy and the protection of human life. This process was designed to facilitate a full reflection on all aspects of the issue. It served that purpose well.

It involved the production of a Green Paper, extensive hearings by the Oireachtas All-Party Committee on abortion and the production of its comprehensive report, and many months of work by a Cabinet committee examining achievable options for a way forward.

The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution and the contents of the Protection of Human Life Bill are the culmination of the Government's detailed consideration of all the issues of the past four years. We embarked on the process in a legislative vacuum in respect of current medical practice where the only statute on abortion remained the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861. There was also a background of failed constitutional referenda – the failure of the 1983 referendum to work as its promoters expected and the failure of the proposed and simplistic wording on the substantive issue in 1992. The courts were the only arm of the State making law on the matter.

It was well past time for the Government and the Oireachtas, to bring forward a workable proposal, a modest step forward that would put a woman's relationship with her doctor at the centre of the issue and ensure legal protection for medical interventions in pregnancy. The process of deliberation was designed to build consensus around as many of the issues as possible. It has proved very valuable in creating the conditions in which this House and the public at large can debate the issues in a fully informed way, calmly and without rancour. By and large that has been the tone of the debate in this House so far.

The Progressive Democrats in Government agree to this proposal being put to the Oireachtas and to the public for debate. The deliberative process helped us form our views on a proposition that would be capable of gaining acceptance from the people. We were also very mindful of the developments of the Medical Council in relation to its ethical guidelines particularly its decision last September which brought an additional degree of clarity to these issues for medical practitioners.

We paid particular attention to the evidence heard at the all-party committee regarding the risk of suicide for women during pregnancy. This arose in the context of whether and how we could legislate effectively for the circumstances of the X case without giving rise to undesired results.

Psychiatrists who gave evidence to the all-party committee said it was impossible to predict reliably if someone was likely to commit suicide, especially if a pregnant woman was refused an abortion. Professor Anthony Clare said, "No such statement can be made with any great safety." Dr. John Sheehan of the Rotunda Hospital said:

There is no test or in a sense there is no fail safe way of saying the person will or will not commit suicide. It actually doesn't exist.

Representatives of the Well Woman Centre commented in their evidence on the possibility of legislating for the circumstances of the X case, and stated there were "immense difficulties involved in defining parameters for such legislation." They added:

We are aware that it is almost impossible to define medical criteria which would not in time lead de facto to a liberal abortion regime to which we would be opposed, and we would indicate that some other jurisdictions have found that the only practical way was to define a term limit or a time limit at which abortion should be permitted, and this was a model to point to.

The logic of their analysis is clear. The question is whether it can be applied in practice, constitutionally or politically, in Ireland.

We must recognise that current constitutional provisions preclude any abortion law based on time limits or term of pregnancy. That is the reality of our starting point for amending the law. As my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy O'Donnell, has stated, we are not starting with a greenfield site constitutionally. We are governing in the context of the existing Article 40.3.3º of the Constitution. Those who want a liberal abortion regime or the many who would permit abortion in the case of rape or incest must recognise that their chosen position requires a constitutional amendment to reverse the 1983 referendum and the provisions of Article 40.3.3º. If they were in government, they would have to assess whether their proposal had any chance of receiving the assent of the people in a referendum. In 1986 the people roundly defeated a proposition to introduce divorce in Ireland. Ten years later a modest and conservative divorce regime was put to the people and narrowly adopted.

We are not in a greenfield site, constitutionally or politically. We are governing and making law in the context of realities today. This includes the experiences of many thousands of Irish women who have chosen abortion. Their experiences and choices must inform our approach to the issue. We must show sensitivity to women who have chosen and will choose abortion. It is never a choice lightly taken.

There is a wide range of views among the people on these issues and this creates practical political limitations on what will be democratically accepted. This limitation has been seen very clearly in trying to deal with the issue by way of a simple constitutional formula in a referendum. Clearly, the Constitution contemplates scenarios in which the people's sovereignty in law-making should be expressed via referenda rather than wholly through the Oireachtas.

The Progressive Democrats have been against the approach of dealing with the complexities of the abortion issue by way of simple constitutional formulae. I am pleased to say the Government has rejected this approach. The proposal the Government has brought forward is fundamentally legislative with the addition that the people will be allowed give their assent or otherwise to the legislation directly, as many wish to do.

The Government's proposal is a modest, incremental step forward. The Bill places the relationship between a woman and her doctor at the centre of legislation, unlike the existing Offences Against the Person Act and the failed substantive amendment in 1992 and other constitutional formulae that have been proposed. It is a significant advance on current statute law in the area by removing any legal doubts about current medical practice. Dr. Peter McKenna, Master of the Rotunda Hospital, referred to this in an article he wrote recently for The Irish Times:

The most obvious benefit in this Bill from a gynaecologist's point of view is that a seriously ill mother can now be offered a termination of pregnancy in this State if it is done to save her life. This is a very rare event and when it was done in the past there was genuine doubt in the minds of practitioners whether they were breaking the law. To know with certainty that recognised medical practice is legal is a considerable comfort for these very unusual cases.

If I understood his article correctly, this was fundamentally the reason he said he would support the proposal, albeit with reservations.

Under the Government's proposal a woman will receive all necessary medical treatment indicated by her doctor and agreed by her during pregnancy. Doctors will have more certainty. Women will have more confidence that their doctor-patient relationship cannot be interfered with by third parties seeking to make legal or constitutional points in the absence of clear law on the issues. The Bill also creates legal certainty for the position of the morning after pill and the use of intra-uterine devices. It was not sufficient to regulate the availability of the morning after pill solely by virtue of licensing decisions of the Irish Medicines Board acting in the context of inadequate statute law on the matter.

Some argue that we should leave things as they are with no change in statute law. This position would accept that the entirety of statute law relating to medical interventions for women in pregnancy, the protection of human life and abortion should be as stated in sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act, 1861. It is entirely inadequate to leave a 140 year old, 19th century statute stand as the only legislation on these matters. For example, that law includes the penalty of life imprisonment for a woman who has an abortion in Ireland. Political indecision and inertia would continue to leave it as the status quo. Any reasonable person contrasting that law with the proposal the Government has brought forward will recognise that we are proposing a considerable advance in statute law for women and their doctors.

The proposal envisages a referendum being arranged in order that the people can directly give their assent or otherwise. I have stated in the House before and it remains my view that it would be unwise to proceed finally to a referendum unless sufficiently broad, middle ground support for the proposition is apparent. This proposition has the potential to earn such support if we proceed with a reasonable debate and the issues are well understood by the public.

The Progressive Democrats have called for a mature, calm and reasonable debate on the issue. I am glad to say the debate in the House this year has been much more along these lines than in previous years, especially 1983 and 1992. Unfortunately, there have been exceptions, on both sides. The issue has been deliberately politicised by some. Do they believe they advance the cause of women by this attitude? Does any Deputy believe this behaviour advances the legal position for the doctor-woman medical relationship? Some seem determined to make the issue divisive, despite the public distaste there is for divisiveness and rancour on this issue. I reject this approach which says it is impossible to debate these issues calmly and maturely between people who hold differing views.

Let us be clear that there are many honestly held, differing views about the issues at stake in this debate. There is a wide range of views within my party. I would not have it otherwise. I would not seek to impose uniformity in any area of conscience and it has never been a tradition of the Progressive Democrats to do so. I do not claim that this proposal would be the first choice of all members of my party. This is a difficult issue for many who place a great value on individual freedoms and rights. Deputies from other parties will recognise that there is a diversity of views within their parties. To pretend otherwise would be to fly in the face of the facts of which Members and the public are well aware.

This proposal represents an advance for women and their medical needs in pregnancy. After four years of consultations, from the Green Paper to the Oireachtas committee, including 110,000 submissions and the valued evidence of the medical profession, we have arrived at a considered and finely balanced compromise. In all the circumstances, political and practical, it was the judgment of the Progressive Democrats in government that this was worth proceeding with in the Oireachtas and in public debate with a view towards a referendum if sufficiently broad middle ground support was generated for it.

Nine years ago the current Tánaiste told the House her views and those of her party on abortion. Abortion she said, was:

the lesser of two evils where a woman's life is at risk, where her health is seriously at risk, or if somebody has been raped or the subject of a sexual crime such as incest. It is also the lesser of two evils where somebody may take their own life. In these limited circumstances – and they are limited – the option of terminating a pregnancy should be available to Irish women in Ireland.

I agree with the Tánaiste's views as set out nine years ago. They are humane and focus on the person. They are not extreme and represent a liberal mainstream perspective on this difficult issue. I do not know how we have reached a position in which the Tánaiste is prepared to support a referendum to repeal the Supreme Court decision in the X case. I asked the Tánaiste this question on the Order of Business recently and she was unable to answer it. Sadly, her contribution has failed to yield an answer. If the Tánaiste had been genuinely converted to the position being proposed by the Government I would understand. However, I suspect that is not the case.

What I do know is what the Tánaiste would say if I were in her position proposing this amendment. She would talk of tragedy and betrayals. She would accuse me of being anti-woman. She would accuse me of abandoning any liberal principles I ever held. She would occupy the moral high ground like the Progressive Democrats of old. If our positions were reversed, she would be right. She is guilty, sadly, of all these things.

It is for the Tánaiste to justify her own position on these matters, but I will say one thing to her. She should not seek to justify what she has done or recover lost ground by playing politics with the timing of this referendum. That genie is unfortunately out of the bottle. Nor should she attempt the hypocrisy of seeking to oppose the referendum that she has deemed appropriate to put before the people. She cannot have it both ways. Nor should she suggest or intimate that consensus should be sought on the issue. She more than anybody else knows that there will be no consensus on a referendum to repeal the X case decision.

The Tánaiste has at least come before the House to make her current position known. I hope that the Taoiseach will also contribute to this debate. He certainly should do so. However, he lacks the Tánaiste's courage and it is clear he will not come before the House this evening.

The referendum will take place because the Taoiseach wishes it. I suspect it is a political calculation on his part. He was never greatly associated with this issue prior to seeking the highest office in the land. Unlike the Tánaiste, he has no track record of speaking out on this issue because, I suspect, it is too controversial and divisive.

People being present in the House during debates has been the subject of some comment in the media in recent weeks. I have been the subject of some criticism myself. However, what applies to those of us in Opposition should also apply to the Taoiseach – the man who instigated this referendum. The Taoiseach's obligation extends further than taking part in this debate. If there is any sincerity in what the Taoiseach is seeking to do here I expect him to campaign hard on the issues involved. If he really believes that "social abortion" is the threat he claims it to be he should make his view clear to the people at every opportunity. Let them tell him how wrong he is.

Of course, the Taoiseach has no great track record of campaigning as such. Like his party he sat out most of the serious constitutional changes of our generation. His sitting out referendum campaigns extends beyond those campaigns that have defined the liberal and social agenda. The Taoiseach is the only political leader who refuses to campaign effectively on issues not just those chosen by others, but those initiated by himself. He certainly did not campaign with any rigour in favour of the Nice treaty referendum, despite informing us that he had secured a great victory over the French Government during the negotiations. In fact, he is quicker to give interviews after soccer internationals in which the national team has been successful than he is after the defeat of referendum proposals supposedly sponsored by his own Government.

Perhaps matters will be different on this occasion. As the Taoiseach tours the country advocating his referendum, as he must, I hope he will explain to people why he feels it necessary to bully and marginalise the tiny minority of young women such as Miss X and Miss C whose pregnancies led to such personal crises that suicide was a real and persistent threat. However, it could it be that the Taoiseach is so cynical he is satisfied that in merely proposing this referendum he has discharged his political obligations and is in a position to collect his political rewards. For the sake of politics, I hope not.

Make no mistake about it the X case and the C case are the net issues in this referendum. They are the only reason the Constitution needs to be amended. Everything else being proposed by the Government, some of which I support, can be done without a referendum.

Do the people wish to repeal the Supreme Court decision in the X case? Do they wish to reverse a decision they made clearly in the 1992 referendum? Do they accept the diminution in the equal right to life of the woman? Do they accept that we should distinguish in our laws and in our Constitution between the physical and psychological threat to the life of a woman? I do not believe so. The majority of the people will never again see this as a simple yes or no issue. I do not believe they will forget how they felt in 1992.

Parents, in particular, recall how they felt when they pictured their own daughters in the same position as Miss X and Miss C. They hoped and prayed that they would never find themselves in the same position. They understood implicitly the crises of others. They were parents from all over the country, from rural and urban areas, young and old, of all faiths, church going and non-church going. This is not a so-called "Dublin 4" issue, it touches every corner of this land and every community. Let us acknowledge that this is an issue that affects women and their rights in particular.

I firmly believe women will not accept any proposals that accord them less rights than they are currently afforded by the Supreme Court decision in the X case. Women will not accept a constitutional amendment that says they cannot be trusted. They will no longer accept the status of second-class citizens.

The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste publicly requested a measured debate on the issues involved in this referendum. It is a call I support. However, let there be no confusion – a measured debate and a search for consensus are not the same thing. One is possible, the other is not. Unfortunately, the message was certainly not heeded by the Taoiseach's own backbenchers. Some have made measured contributions which, while I disagree with, I respect. Others sadly have not. It is not solely Fianna Fáil backbenchers who are responsible. In response to legal criticisms of the Government's proposals from my party, partisan briefing material emanated from the Taoiseach's office. While we are informed that the Taoiseach sought to withdraw the document, it had clearly entered circulation before he was able to do so. Worse was to follow. During the course of this debate, one Fianna Fáil member in particular made scurrilous charges against members of the Fine Gael Party before proceeding to insult Irish women in general. Where the Taoiseach sought to give a lead, some members of his own party have decided not to follow.

My party's objections to the legal device being used to put this referendum before the people are already clear and in the public domain. We believe we are correct. We believe also that we are correct on the issue of European protocols. We further believe that should this referendum be passed, the new article will clearly impact upon the interpretation of Article 40.3.3. Legally flawed though it is, however, my objection to this referendum is not about legalities. I simply do not believe that the decision in the X case should be reversed. For that reason we will campaign against this referendum, whenever it is put to the people.

Abortion is a serious issue. It will cause many people to look deep into their hearts and consciences. Those who trouble themselves sufficiently to consider the issue and vote are people who think deeply and have strong, but different views, on the society in which they live. It is possible that people of divergent views will vote against the Government's proposals. They will represent a sizeable majority at the end of the day. However, these people – and I speak as one of them – are not "zealots" as one newspaper unfortunately described them.

Hear, hear.

That charge, made in an editorial in The Irish Times is particularly ironic, given the position adopted by that newspaper in the referendum on precisely the same issue in 1992. I ask that the charge be withdrawn because it is not worthy of those who made it and it is not deserved by those on both sides against whom it was levelled.

I welcome the Minister for Health and Children to the House.

The Minister was not present when we argued about the next stage of this legislation. It will follow a restricted Committee Stage, subject to a guillotine. The Minister might explain why he broke a promise he made earlier in a document that he circulated to Members. It stated that there would be a full debate in this Chamber to enable all Members to articulate their concerns. It was the subject of intense discussion earlier today and it requires a clear justification as to why the Minister broke his word.

It may well be that this is collective responsibility and that the Cabinet decided that there would be a particularly restrictive manner for taking Committee Stage. Much of the detail in this legislation will not be subject to the kind of scrutiny that is required because many Deputies will not be able to contribute. More importantly, this will be the first constitutional legislation where Committee Stage was not taken on the floor of the House. The record should show why the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, the Dauphin of the Fianna Fáil party, sought to change precedent in relation to this matter. What had the Minister to hide? What was the Minister afraid of?


What was he afraid of that he was not prepared to take the debate on the floor of this House? There is no sense of urgency about the legislative programme of this administration. The Minister waltzes in and out of the House to discuss legislation. The House does not sit late and will not come back in January even though the timetable for the House has now been altered and the budget takes place in December. The reason for the delay in not coming back until the end of January was, in the past, to enable the budget preparations to be concluded over the Christmas period. There is no such constraint on us now. If the Taoiseach wanted to give this House the time that he says he wants to give, and not guillotine legislation by shoving it off into a restricted Committee Stage, we could come back on 10 January.

There is an onus on the Minister to answer on this issue to this House, to the wider public who will read this debate and to the thousands of women whose rights he is restricting and whose access to safety is being stripped away if they are suicidal. The Minister is not forced to do this. If he disagrees, he can choose another course. Does the Minister for Health and Children believe that there is a difference in health terms between physical and psychological health? Surely after two years in office the Minister should realise that the threat to life from a psychiatric illness or psychological condition is as real as a physical one.

These are questions that women will want the Minister to answer. They will want to ask him and every Fianna Fáil candidate why their sisters and mothers have a reduced right to life as a result of this proposition. There is an alternative course of action, to abandon the referendum and bring in legislation to give effect to the judgment in the X case. That is the position of the Labour Party. We should not need another divisive referendum because we have already spoken on this issue.

I agree in part with what the Tánaiste has said. However, a referendum of this kind could only be on the basis that on this issue the politicians of all parties cannot be trusted. Any legislative change that we may wish to make that would be enacted in part with this constitutional amendment will have to be subject to the approval of the people by way of plebiscite. The Minister must explain that.

This is a sad day for Ireland. This is the fifth attempt to deal with this issue. As Deputy O'Kennedy said, the original proposal was wrong-headed in the first instance. The only party still in this House today which opposed it at that time was the Labour Party. It is to Deputy Dick Spring's credit that, in his first weekend as leader of the Labour Party, he opposed that particular proposal. It was that wrong-headed constitutional amendment that has brought us to this position. I appeal to the Minister not to go down in history as the Minister for Health and Children who minimised the safety of the lives of women in this country.

I thank Deputies who contributed. I acknowledge that the subject matter is sensitive for many people. The tone of the debate has been marked by a great understanding of the difficulties faced by women with a crisis pregnancy and sympathy for them. However, there is a degree of arrogance in suggesting that we should not go back to the people on this subject. Clearly, as we said when we launched this proposal, there are many views on the issue.

We are endeavouring to bring forward a balanced set of proposals that will command the majority of the middle ground of reasonable opinion. No successive Government has come forward with a set of proposals that are perfect, ideal or meet everyone's particular concerns. However, at the sub-committee there was a strong view that we should go back to the people. Others, including the Labour Party, have a different view. They are entitled to that view but let us not be arrogant by saying that the view that the legislators should not go back to the people is the only one. There are many legislators who believe that, to an extent, this represents unfinished business because of earlier situations in the 1980s and early 1990s when we went to the people. The present legal position is not acceptable. It is not ideal for medical practitioners, women or unborn children.

I accept that.

There are differences of opinion as to whether we should go back to the people on this issue. A wide range of issues have been raised in the course of the debate. Many of these are grounded in genuine concern about the possible impact of the Government's proposals on the health of women and their unborn children. In other cases, Members have questioned the Government's approach without clearly indicating what approach they would adopt or where they stand on the key issues.

This Bill, and the mechanisms for which it provides, represent the first legislative response to the legal issues which remain unresolved since the X case in 1992. It will protect best medical practice, while providing for a legislative prohibition on abortion and underpinning such legislation with an amendment to the Constitution. The Government is satisfied, on the basis of all of the expert medical evidence which has been presented and discussed, that there are rare life-threatening conditions or illnesses, either associated with pregnancy or exacerbated by pregnancy, in which in order to save the woman's life, it may be necessary for doctors to consider taking action in the course of which or as a result of which unborn human life is ended. In this legislation, under the proposed Act, a threat of suicide will not constitute a real and substantial risk to a woman's life. There was much debate on this in the All-Party Committee on the Constitution.

I will comment briefly on some of the main issues raised on this Stage of the debate. Several Deputies have expressed concern about the ruling out of a threat of suicide as grounds for an abortion. They have suggested that a possible risk to the life of a pregnant woman is measurable and capable of assessment in the same way as a life-threatening physical condition. It has also been suggested that the Government's proposals call into question the professional expertise and judgment of psychiatrists. The evidence heard by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution shows that psychiatrists have highlighted the great difficulty of assessing whether a threat of suicide will actually be carried out. The Government, having considered the testimony and other research in this area, considers that it would not be appropriate to provide for a regime where abortion would be permissible on grounds of threatened suicide.

Some Deputies have asked why the envisaged legislation will protect unborn life only from the time of implantation in the womb rather than from fertilisation. There has been considerable debate outside the House on that issue. In the first place, this legislation is concerned with the protection of human life in the womb and ensuring an effective prohibition on abortion. At the same time the Government wants to ensure that there is no doubt about the legality of a medical procedure necessary to save a woman's life. This is the first legislative proposal to provide specifically for that. Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution will remain in place.

I recognise that, as a matter of personal conscience, there are people who believe that human life begins as soon as the ovum is fertilised. However, there are difficulties with providing in law for the protection of the unborn from this point. For example, for practical purposes it is not possible to tell at the time of fertilisation that this has occurred and medical research suggests that many fertilised ova do not implant in the womb at all. Medically it is only possible some days after implantation to diagnose that a woman is pregnant. The Bill in essence defines the offence of abortion, and not the issue of the beginning of human life. Therefore, the proposed legislation takes the time of implantation as the point beyond which unborn human life can be protected under the law, as it is from that point that pregnancy can be established as having begun.

As regards issues such as in vitro fertilisation and embryo research, I established the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction which has been asked to consider and prepare a report on the possible approaches to the regulation of all aspects of assisted human reproduction and the social, ethical and legal factors to be taken into account in determining policy in this area. The commission is chaired by Professor Dervilla Donnelly and has been meeting for the past nine to 12 months. The Government will consider these issues when the commission makes its report.

A number of Deputies raised concerns about the mechanism for making ministerial orders provided for in section 5 of the Bill. The first point to be made about these orders is that they involve putting in place new arrangements, but with the objective of protecting existing best medical practice. At the moment, a procedure of the type covered by section 1(2) can take place in any location and can be performed by any medical practitioner. The threat to the woman's life may include a threat of self destruction and there are no specific legal requirements regarding what constitutes a reasonable opinion on the part of the doctor concerned. I am not aware that those who expressed concerns about the possible abuse or distortion of the mechanism provided for in the Bill have said that existing arrangements are inadequate and that safeguards are necessary. Nonetheless, in light of the views expressed during this debate, I will consider whether there is scope for improving the parliamentary scrutiny mechanism regarding the making of ministerial orders.

Concerns that, by introducing safeguards, the way may be opened to a so-called liberal abortion regime, are unfounded. It must be remembered that the key test in any case is whether the medical procedure is, in the reasonable opinion of the medical practitioner involved, necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk of the loss of the woman's life, other than by self-destruction. Furthermore, the medical practitioner must have regard to the need to preserve unborn human life where practicable. The constitutional underpinning of the legislation and the requirement that any proposed amendment of it must be put to the people in a further referendum mean that there must be a degree of flexibility to amend the arrangements for the approval of certain places for the purposes of the Act, for example, if at some time in the future, new hospitals are opened or existing hospitals are amalgamated. For practical, routine reasons the ministerial orders make clear and common sense and the provision for parliamentary scrutiny of ministerial orders will provide an additional safeguard.

The Crisis Pregnancy Agency which I recently established represents the first serious attempt by any Government to provide comprehensively for women faced with crisis pregnancies in terms of resources and realistic options, advice and guidance.

Will the Minister give way?

While he is addressing this issue, will the Minister state whether the orders creating the Crisis Pregnancy Agency will come before the House for discussion? I understand he is in the process of amending the regulations.

I have no objection to debating those orders in the House, but we will have to raise the matter with the Whips to find time to do so.

Will the Minister answer my question? Why did he break his promise?

Please allow the Minister to conclude without interruption.

A sum of £5 million has been allocated and is included in the Estimates. My understanding is that the orders were laid before the House, but Deputy Mitchell has asked for some opportunity to debate them. I have no difficulty with that request.

Many people have commented on the nature of this debate. We have been endeavouring to reach a consensus on this issue. The Oireachtas committee put forward three options. The Labour Party has been consistent since then in its opposition to rolling back the judgment in the X case. The committee offered other significant positions that we do nothing and that we move in this direction.

We will not achieve 100% agreement on this issue. The Labour Party has taken a clear position, as have the Government parties. Fine Gael is not happy with the mechanism which is wishes to contest before getting into the content of the proposal and how to assess it. From the legal work which has been put into this issue, and in my capacity as chairman of the interdepartmental committee, I am satisfied this is well crafted legislation into which much thought has gone and that it stands up to any scrutiny in terms of its legality or constitutionality. Many independent commentators have articulated this view in the media.

There has been an unprecedented level of debate on this issue in the House. No other legislation has been debated at such length so it is somewhat unfair to suggest that a guillotine has been placed on the Bill. Likewise, the Bill will be debated by the sub-committee on health and children and will have to come back to the House on Report Stage.

Will the Minister give way?

The Minister will not give the reason he broke his word.

I have not broken my word. With respect, much hyperbole surrounds this issue and people are playing to the gallery in terms of how the Parliament, through the Chair—

The Minister is caught on this one.

We believed the Minister's statements.

There has been unprecedented debate so far and the legislation will come back to the House on Report Stage.

What is the reason the Minister broke his word which he gave on Second Stage?

Please allow the Minister to conclude without interruption.

We used to believe the Minister's Second Stage speeches.

I do not think the Deputy ever believed anything which emanated from this side of the House. I reject any suggestion that this legislation will not get a thorough airing in the House, on Committee Stage and back here in the House on Report Stage.

Amendment No. 1 cannot be moved at this stage. The first question is on amendment No. 2.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand part of the main question."

Ahern, Bertie.Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cowen, Brian.Cullen, Martin.Davern, Valera, Síle.Dempsey, Noel.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Foley, Denis.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.

Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Kitt, Tom.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McGennis, Marian.Martin, Micheál.Moffatt, Thomas.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Rourke, Mary.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.


Allen, Bernard.Barnes, Monica.Belton, Louis J.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon.Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.De Rossa, Proinsias.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Dukes, Alan.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.

Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Gregory, Tony.Hayes, Brian.Hayes, Tom.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Michael.Hogan, Philip.Howlin, Brendan.Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McGrath, Paul.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia. Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.


Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Owen, Nora.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ring, Michael.

Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Spring, Dick.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.Yates, Ivan.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Briscoe; Níl, Deputies Bradford and Stagg.
Question declared carried.
Amendment No. 1 not moved.