Northern Ireland news

Fianna Fáil TD who voted to repeal Republic's abortion laws reportedly refused Holy Communion at funeral Mass

Robert Troy, the Fianna Fáil TD for Longford and Westmeath, said in an interview last month that he had voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Picture by Brendan Lyon/ImageBureau
John Monaghan

A TD who voted to repeal the Republic's abortion laws has reportedly been refused Holy Communion at a funeral Mass.

The incident happened when Robert Troy, the Fianna Fáil TD for Longford and Westmeath, was attending Requiem Mass at St Nicholas' parish church in Multyfarnham, Co Meath, on January 4.

Parish priest Fr John Hogan withheld the host from Mr Troy, according to The Sunday Times.

In 2016 Mr Troy said he was "pro-life" and believed he "should have the right to be", but his tone appeared to change and in the run-up to the referendum on the Eighth Amendment in May 2018.

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In an interview in December, the TD admitted he had come down in favour of changing the legislation, saying he believed keeping the Eighth Amendment would not prevent abortions.

"I voted to repeal it. I have to say, I thought long and hard about it. In terms of repealing the Eighth, I would have no issue in terms of fatal foetal abnormalities, incest and rape. Other areas I'm uncomfortable with it," he said.

"At the end of the day, you make the choice in terms of what way you want to lead your life. I would be a person of faith myself... I'm comfortable with my faith - I don't have to agree with everything they preach."

Following the referendum result several bishops urged Catholics who had voted to repeal the law to go to confession.

Asked if he would refuse the Eucharist to a repeal voter who had not been to confession, the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Alphonsus Cullinan, said: "On the spot that is a totally different matter, because then you are politicising the actual Mass itself, very awkward situation that you don't want to get into."

Neither Fr Hogan, who is a regular presenter on the international Catholic TV station Eternal World Television Network (ETWN), nor Mr Troy have commented publicly on the matter.

Meanwhile, there have been claims that the British government deliberately thwarted attempts by backbench MPs to extend abortion legislation to Northern Ireland in order to protect the Conservative-DUP confidence and supply agreement.

A measure in the Domestic Abuse Bill which would have given Westminster powers over Northern Ireland law in relation to the Offences Against the Person Act has been dropped.

"A bright civil servant foresaw the potential for the legislation to cause problems for the DUP," a Cabinet Office source told The Sunday Times.

Labour MP Stella Creasy, who secured an emergency debate in parliament on the north's abortion legislation last summer, had intended to put down an amendment but was blocked.

"Trying to prevent decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland might keep Arlene Foster happy, but it condemns 28 women a week to travel to England for their right to choose," said Ms Creasy.

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