No connection between Referendum outcome and General Election - Minister Charlie Flanagan

Result will not lead to Sinn Féin Fine Gael coalition says Laois TD

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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No connection between Referendum outcome and General Election - Minister Charlie Flanagan

Laois TD and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan at Laois Referendum Count Centre.

There is no connection between the abortion Referendum outcome and the calling of a General Election and the result does not mean a coalition with Sinn Féin is on the cards, according to Laois TD Charlie Flanagan Minister for Justice.

Mnister Flanagan responded to the outcome at the Laois count center in Portlaoise where he also praised the Taoiseach for making repeal an priority.  

"This was a nettle that successive governments down the years refused to grasp. This Government has done it. Leo Varadkar showed leadership. It is less than a year since he was elected Taoiseach and he prioritised this as one of his earliest policies. I acknowledge his leadership and determination and am pleased that the people have gone with him," he said.

He said, however, that the campaign was not driven by political parties and would not lead to a snap election.

"I don't see any need for an election. What we have seen here is an act of democracy. The people voted. The campaign was not really party political. It was not in your face political because many people made up their minds in the privacy of their own home, time and space," he said.

As to whether the outcome would impact a future Government he said: "There will not be a Fine Gael Sinn Féin Government".

He expected that the legislation would have a smoother passage given the clarity of the result.

"The fact that the result is so clear nationally should mean there is no impediment to the passing of legislation nationally which I would expect would be by the end of the year," he said.

He said the decision in his own Laois constituency was clear. 

"The patterns were mixed but it is clear that a strong decision was made in Laois to vote yes. In 1983 Laois voted 77% in favour of the eigth amendment. That shows a significant changes which is not surprising given the change in Irish society over 35 years.

"I was really struck by the enthusiasm and determination of young women in this campaign. The together for yes campaign in Laois was led by young women most of whom have no party political affiliation and were never involved in politics before," he said.  

Minister Flanangan said the decisions on whether Portlaoise hospital's maternity unit would be designated for terminations would be decided during the legislative process.

He said the key issue is that Laois and other Irish women would be allowed to make decisions and have their care handled at home that their predecessors could not make at home.

"Hundreds of Laois women, many of whom were vulnerable, isolated, upset, traumatised, took the lonely journey to London, Liverpoool and Manchester. They can now have their health issues dealt with by their own doctors in their own communities with their own family with their own people," he said.

He accepted the view of Laois no campaigners that the outcome was a sad day. 

"I acknowledge that there was a sharp differance of opinion. This is a very sensitive and difficult issue. Many of my friends and supporters voted no. I would expected that the will of the people will now be acknowledged. That is direct democracy," he said. 

Minister Flanagan said Government and he would continue at work. He looked forward to two referendums in October to change the constitutional status of the women's place within the home and also delete the offence of blasphemy.