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Tuesday 26 September 2017

State must give Europe 'action plan' on abortion

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE Government will be forced to give an indication of its plans to deal with abortion in just over three months.

It will have to deliver an "action plan" to a European body by the end of October following a ruling two years ago.

The substantive issue is causing tensions within the Coalition, with Fine Gael TDs threatening to vote against the Government if there is any move to legalise abortion.

The tight timeframe leaves little room for ministers to consult with party backbenchers on the "next steps in the implementation of the judgment".

The Europe deadline is just weeks after an expert group considering how to handle the European Court of Human Rights ruling in 2010 will report back to the Government.

The Government is likely to try to kick it to touch but will have to ensure the court is satisfied it is dealing with the ruling.

The department said the Government is due to submit an action plan to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe by the end of October.

"The purpose of this action plan is to update the Committee of Ministers on developments and next steps in the implementation of the judgment. No date for any further submission has been set," a spokesman said.

The European Court found a woman's rights had been breached because of the failure to provide a regulatory or legislative procedure by which she could establish whether she qualified for a lawful abortion in this country.

Fine Gael has promised not to bring in legislation, while Labour had pledged to legislate for the 1992 'X case'.

Labour junior minister Kathleen Lynch said recently that it was "fairly certain" the expert group would recommend legislation for abortion in some circumstances. There was no point in the Government appointing the group if it would not follow its suggestions.

Bereaved

But yesterday Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: "The recommendations would cover a wide variety of actions. Let's wait and see what the expert group say.''

Ms Fitzgerald made her remarks as she launched the Irish Childhood Bereavement Network, which was set up to support people working with grieving children and young people who have lost a parent.

Based on a UK model, a hub will be created for those working with bereaved children, young people and their families and to allow easy access to information, guidance and support.

Irish Independent

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