THE two main representative bodies for lawyers have turned down invites to give evidence at the public hearings on abortion.
The Law Society, the ruling body for solicitors, and the Bar Council, which represents barristers, were invited to make submissions and attend the hearings being held by the Joint Committee on Health and Children.
Last week Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society, wrote to the committee and stated that it had "never taken a public position in any way touching on the deeply divisive issue of abortion", adding that it was "highly unlikely" that it would do so.
The society only received a letter inviting it to make submissions on January 4 last, five days before it was due to testify before the committee.
It said that it could not have attended the hearings without convening a full council meeting to consider the "complex and detailed" Expert Group Report into matters relating to A,B,C v Ireland.
The Bar Council, which represents 2,300 barristers, said that for "timing and policy reasons" it was inappropriate for the ruling body to engage in the current hearings.
Jerry Carroll, the director of the Bar Council, told the Irish Independent that it was inappropriate to engage with the hearings owing to the "personal import" of the issue to each of its members.
More than 40 witnesses and 20 groups are giving evidence, among them medical and legal experts, the churches and civil society bodies.
Pro-choice and anti-abortion groups have also been invited to make submissions and appear before the committee.