“When the whips are off, parliament has a new vitality” Peter Richards, Political historian,
Regardless of his motivation, Michael Martin has made a decision today that should become the Fianna Fáil position on all issues of conscience into the future. As we have seen in similar parliaments in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand the parliament comes alive when the whip system is removed. Party leaders allowing members to vote on issues of conscience (e.g. gay marriage, gambling, pornography, divorce, sale of alcohol, voting age etc etc) will allow back benchers to re-define themselves as something other than funeral attending, pot hole fillers. Many back benchers will fear being lobbied and will fear having to make a decision that will upset some of their constituents but that is something that their counterparts have to deal with in other countries.
Enda Kenny & Eamonn Gilmore have both said that they will impose their will on all members of their political parties on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill which has yet again demonstrated the cowardice of both men. If your position is so strong and your bill carries so much support then please stand up on the floor of the parliament and sell your position to the members of your and other parties. The sight of TD’s who are fundamentally opposed to this bill walking through to vote yes will yet again demonstrate that our parliament is a broken entity and behind our international colleagues.
People voted for change in the last election, they didn’t get it, they will vote for change again.