Sunday 4 December 2016

Government does not know how it will respond to UN condemnation of Ireland's abortion rules, Minister admits

Published 09/06/2016 | 13:24

Education Minister Richard Brutons. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Education Minister Richard Brutons. Photo: Steve Humphreys

THE Government does not how it will respond to the United Nations’ condemnation of Ireland’s rules on abortion, a senior Minister has admitted.

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Education Minister Richard Bruton, replying to Dáil questions for the Government, said he cannot say what action the Government will take in response to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s finding on Ireland’s abortion ban.

Read More: Ireland's abortion ban 'cruel, inhuman and degrading', says UN

The UN committee ruled that a woman carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality was subjected to discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in the Republic.

Several Opposition TDs - including Independents Clare Daly, Joan Collins and Catherine Connolly – called on the Government to outline what action would be taken.

But Mr Bruton said he did not see the report from the committee. “I absolutely sympathise with and understand the concern of deputies for any woman with a fatal foetal abnormality,’’ he said.

Mr Bruton said a constitutional amendment would be needed to effect any change.

The Education Minister said the Programme for Government contains a commitment to set up a citizens’ assembly within six months to consider all the issues involved. He said the TDs and Senators would have a final say over any recommendations which came from that process.

Independent TD Clare Daly said the UN committee’s finding was “a groundbreaking international decision’’ against this country. The Fingal Independent TD asked whether the Government would provide compensation for the woman involved.

New Galway West Independent TD Catherine Connolly said the United Nations had called on Ireland to change the law on pregnancies involving fatal foetal abnormalities. “It is important the voices of women are heard in this chamber,’’ she added.

Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins said the 1983 Eight Amendment should be repealed quickly and the issue was not a job for a citizens’ convention.

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