‘Just because you’ve a different view doesn’t mean you’re conservative’

“There is no right or wrong view on repeal of the Eighth Amendment; but, I fear the vote will split the country.”

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has voiced his opposition to the Joint Oireachtas Committee recommendation that abortion be allowed up to the twelfth week of pregnancy; as well as when a mother’s life or health is at risk.

Speaking to AgriLand, after two days of Dail debate on the report, the farmer, turf-cutter and agricultural contractor – who represents the Roscommon-Galway constituency – urged people to hear both sides.

“I won’t be telling people how to vote; you have to respect everyone at the end of the day.

But I’ve looked at the recommendation and I am opposed. I think we are going down a dangerous road. I am against repealing it; I am going by my own conscience.

“However, I do urge everyone to show respect on all sides and to not get into a debate that will be divisive,” he said.

Level playing field

Although no final decision has yet been made on the proposed legislation, Fitzmaurice says both sides must be given an even platform to openly express their viewpoints.

“You are classed ‘conservative’ if you have a different view these days in the media. Just because you have a different view doesn’t mean you are conservative. Why are we putting people in that bracket?” said Fitzmaurice.

He added that various politicians, including himself, have received a barrage of threatening and abusive emails on the issue – from some on both sides of the debate.

“People think in different ways. Country people are as much up to speed as anyone else; but, if you don’t go with the flow you are classed as ‘being conservative’.

Both sides need to be given a level playing field so people can make their own decision themselves.

“It is very personal to everybody and all you can do is go by your own conscience,” he concluded.

Creed keeping quiet

Meanwhile, earlier this week, AgriLand also asked Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed for his position on the upcoming referendum on replacing article 40.3.3 in the Constitution of Ireland – expected to take place in May or June this year.

“There has been a very clear road map painted by the Government on this for quite some time. It involves the Citizens’ Assembly; it involves deliberations of the Oireachtas Committee and that is now commencing in the house.

“I, as a member of Government, will consider all of those deliberations in due course,” he said.