Irish MP quits party over abortion vote
2 October 2018
Peter Fitzpatrick TD is resigning from Fine Gael and will stand as an independent.
He previously called BPAS "horrifying"
Pro-life TD (member of the Dail, the Irish parliament) Peter Fitzpatrick has announced he is resigning from his party because he felt "isolated" during the abortion referendum.
Fine Gael is currently Ireland's governing party whose leader, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, announced the referendum on his first day in office and subsequently campaigned for abortion.
Mr Fitzpatrick has been vocal about his pro-life views, and was one of three TDs who sat on the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment to produce a minority report from the rest of the members who recommended a liberalisation of the country’s abortion laws.
Memorably, he interviewed Patricia Lohr of BPAS, which he described as a "horrifying charity" during the committee proceedings.
In a press release, Mr Fitzpatrick implied that the recent abortion referendum played a big part in his decision to leave Fine Gael, a party that was historically pro-life but whose senior ministers campaigned for abortion during the referendum. "The decision to resign from Fine Gael was a difficult decision to make," he wrote. "I have given 100% commitment during my time as a member of the party and have always been a team player. I backed the party when some very difficult decision had to be taken, even when I did not agree with the party I always supported them.
No way am I voting for abortion at 12 weeks
"Unfortunately over the past 15 months I have not been given the same support from Fine Gael as I had given them. My views were not always listened to and I felt isolated with the party itself."
When asked on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme whether the Eighth Amendment had influenced his decision, he replied: "that’s only one thing. I do have a problem with abortion. There’s no way Peter Fitzpatrick is going to vote in favour of 12 weeks."
Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar said he was sorry Mr Fitzpatrick had made the decision. "I know that he has been unhappy for some time and was a strong opponent of holding a referendum on the Eighth Amendment," he said.
Not the first
Mr Fitzpatrick has said that he plans to continue representing his constituency of Louth and East Meath as an Independent, and will stand as such in the next election. He is the second TD to resign from their party over their pro-life views. Carol Nolan quit Sinn Fein in June after the party refused to allow members to vote according to their consciences on abortion. "I do not want to have any hand, act or part in bringing about the end to the life of an unborn child, the most vulnerable in our society," she said.
In the UK, all parties currently regard abortion as a conscience issue, and do not whip their MPs on it. That Irish TDs feel that they are unable to remain in their parties shows just how determined the political establishment is to brook no opposition to their agenda.
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