AGREEING to hold a contentious referendum on abortion in the 1980s was one of former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald's greatest regrets, a minister says.
Dr FitzGerald's Fine Gael - Labour Party coalition put forward the 1983 referendum, the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
Following a highly divisive referendum, Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution was amended to read: "The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."
Junior minister Brian Hayes said the former Taoiseach acknowledged shortly before his death that the referendum was a mistake.
"Six weeks before Garret FitzGeralds's passing I had the opportunity to meet him for a very lengthy lunch and conversation. At the end of our discussion I asked Dr FitzGerald what were the issues he made mistakes on during his time in politics.
"He spoke honestly and eloquently about his deep regret in agreeing for demands for a constitutional referendum on this issue in the early 1980s.
"The issue became, as he described, entangled in party politics and in the fevered political atmosphere of the time where effectively we saw three general elections in 18 months."
From the Irish Independent: 1980s abortion referendum was one of my biggest mistakes, Garrett FitzGerald admitted
SECOND OPINION: At last women who give birth in Irish hospitals may have at least one of their human rights respected and vindicated. The Report of the Expert group on the Judgment in A, B and C v Ireland says that legislation to regulate access to lawful termination of pregnancy in Ireland is “constitutionally, legally and procedurally sound”.
The Health Information and Quality Authority may have to establish a further investigation into how pregnant women who are getting increasingly ill are cared for in Irish hospitals, following its inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar.
Constitutional lawyers William Binchy (Pro-Life Amendment Campaign) and Mary Robinson (Anti-Amendment Campaign) debate the legal implications of the result of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution on a Today Tonight Referendum Results special, 8 September 1983.