independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Gilmore disagrees with Pope on abortion laws

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore says he disagrees with the Pope's criticism on Ireland bringing in abortion laws.

The Labour Party leader said women were entitled to legal clarity and "more than understanding and mercy".

But Mr Gilmore and European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton disagreed slightly in their interpretations of the Pope's speech.

The Tanaiste said women were entitled to legal clarity, while the European Affairs Minister said she was not clear the Pope was suggesting they weren't.

However, the Labour Party and Fine Gael ministers did agree the Pope was simply expressing the Catholic church's well known view on abortion.

The Pope intervened in the Irish abortion debate yesterday, saying he was "dismayed" by attempts to expand legislation on the issue.

Although he did not mention Ireland directly, observers say there is little doubt the current abortion debate here was high in his thoughts when he made the comments.

Mr Gilmore said he received a report on the Pope's speech from his department's secretary general.

"I think what the Pope was expressing was the long established and well known view of his church. With respect, I disagree with it. I think that women in Ireland are entitled to more than understanding and mercy, as he put it. I think they are entitled to legal clarity about their situation where their life is at risk.

"And the Government has already made a decision to pursue the option, which was set out in the expert group report, which is to legislate and to introduce appropriate regulations to deal with that.

"That process has started. The process of preparing that legislation has started with the hearings, which are taking place in the Oireachtas this week and different points of view will obviously be heard and they will inform the preparation of the legislation."

Although her views on abortion diverge from the Tanaiste, Ms Creighton was careful not to publicly disagree.

"I certainly don't disagree with the right of the Pope to express his opinion. As the Tanaiste said, he was articulating what is a very well established and well known view of the Catholic church," she said.

"I am not clear that the Pope was suggesting for any second that women are not entitled to legal clarity. I believe that that is abundantly clear. I think the position of the Irish Government is clear on that matter also and I hope that that legal certainty will be enshrined in legislation in the near future.

"So I don't disagree with that," she added.

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