A bill proposing a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, and allowing for legislation on abortion, went up for debate before Dáil Éireann on Tuesday.
Earlier that day, the government agreed not to accept the bill until the Citizens’ Assembly has discussed the topic even though it is not due to start until early 2017.
Ruth Coppinger accused “sell-out Independents” of “putting their ministerial seats before the health and lives of women.”
“This vote will guarantee that no referendum will take place during the lifetime of this government,” she added.
The AAA-PBP (Anti Austerity Alliance – People Before Profit) bill was particularly critical of Independent TD Katherine Zappone. Zappone was elected due to her links to the marriage referendum, and the repeal of Ireland’s restrictive abortion laws.
“Many women and girls leave this state every day for an abortion. This is our reality.” Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion said. She added that Ireland cannot continue ‘exporting its issues’, and that the government’s delaying tactics on this matter are unacceptable.
TD Bríd Smith brought abortion pills with her into the chamber – which are illegal in Ireland – to use as a visual aid to her argument.
“You could arrest me for having it and give me 14 years, but you ain’t going to do it because what’s on your books and what’s in your laws, you know that if you dare to implement it you would bring hellfire and brimstone down on top of this House and in wider society because we have moved on,” she said.
Smith started her speech by criticising the poor turn-out for the debate. With only 14 TDs showing up to discuss the Bill, she was not alone in criticising the attendance, and many citizens took to social media to voice their outrage. The hashtag #repealbill was among the top trending topics in Ireland during, and after, the debate taking place.
The Pro-Life campaign said that the bill was designed solely to generate publicity and not for a genuine debate.