Wednesday 26 July 2017

Televised debate 'could have avoided trouble'

Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan

CEANN Comhairle Sean Barrett has said that the abortion rights controversy could have been avoided if there was live broadcasting of the key Dail debate almost 30 years ago.

It came as the controversy continued over the death of pregnant Indian woman Savita Halappanavar (31) in hospital in Galway after she suffered a miscarriage and was refused an abortion in University College Hospital in Galway.

Mr Barrett said he had been chief whip in the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government that debated the wording for the 1983 referendum, which upheld the abortion ban.

He said that the problems with the wording had been clearly identified during the debate.

"We were warned that the equal right to life of the mother and the foetus was going to cause problems – because how would a doctor decide?" he said.

Mr Barrett said that if the public had been able to listen to the Dail debate, there might have been a better wording agreed and the current "trouble" may have been avoided.

Mr Barrett is campaigning for a Dail and Seanad channel to be placed on the new Saorview TV service – which would be identical to the channel currently provided by UPC.

Irish Independent

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