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Taoiseach condemns use of Down Syndrome images in abortion referendum

The ministers got a mostly positive reaction as they campaigned for a Yes vote ahead of the referendum next Friday.


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)

The Taoiseach has branded the use of children with Down Syndrome in posters for the abortion referendum as “wrong”.

Leo Varadkar criticised the posters, published by those campaigning for a No vote in the referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, as he canvassed commuters in Dublin on Tuesday.

He said: “I think it’s wrong because we have made it very clear in the proposed legislation that disability will not be grounds to end a pregnancy.

“I think it’s one of a number of attempts by the No campaign to muddy the waters and create confusion.”

The use of Down Syndrome children has also been criticised by Minister for Health Simon Harris, who joined Mr Varadkar as he walked through Dublin on Tuesday morning along with Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan.

The ministers got a mostly positive reaction as they campaigned for a Yes vote ahead of the referendum next Friday.

Nursing students Lily Downes and Katie Clarke, both 20, spoke to Mr Varadkar in the Trinity College campus and told him they would be voting Yes.

Edward O’Sullivan, 61, an estates and facilities worker at the campus, also told the Taoiseach he would be supporting the Yes campaign.

Mr Varadkar said: “When we amended our constitution back in 1983 to outlaw abortion people thought that’s what it would do but it hasn’t.

“In reality, nine or 10 women every day travel to the United Kingdom to end their pregnancies and increasingly women are buying pills over the internet and taking them at home so that is actually quite a dangerous situation – and we believe that we should face up to the reality of abortion and provide for it in our own country but with the necessary restrictions.”