'Sunset clause on abortion law would keep floodgates closed'

JOE LEOGUE

Published 18/04/2013 | 05:26

CORK North West TD Michael Creed this week said that his "sunset clause" proposal would ensure that any laws brought in relating to the Supreme Court's ruling on the 1992 X Case would avoid any "unintentional consequences" of legislation.

A sunset clause would effectively put a deadline on any legislation, and would require the Oireachtas to vote in favour of extending it beyond the prescribed time.

The Fine Gael TD wrote to Taoiseach Enda Kenny in January, and suggested that such a clause would appease those who fear that X Case legislation would "open the floodgates" to abortion on demand.

'Should the Government be satisfied the legislation has fulfilled its purpose, and that it has not led to any unforeseen departure from what was intended by the legislation, then the Oireachtas can further extend the application of Bill,' Deputy Creed wrote at the time.

Speaking to The Corkman this week, Deputy Creed said he believed the clause would be a wise addition to complex legislation. "There's plenty precedent for this, the two that come to mind are the bank guarantee and the Offences Against the State Act," he said.

"This is about engaging with the legislative process and ensuring that there's a fail-safe in place if any legislation is not what it says on the tin.

"Be it in a year, or five years, or whenever the Oireachtas decides, it has to be reviewed to see is it doing what it is supposed to be doing, nothing more or nothing less," he explained.

When asked why such a clause was needed, given that the Oireachtas can review legislation at any time, Deputy Creed argued that this would ensure a review and appease critics of plans to legislate for the X Case.

"This would build into the script that it will lapse and can only be re-effected if the Oireachtas wants it to continue, it has to be deliberate," he said.

Dublin North Central Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain said it was "nonsense" to suggest such a clause on a Supreme Court constitutional requirement, but Deputy Creed defended the measure. "Legislation is necessary but we can insulate ourselves if we somehow get it wrong.

"We are grappling with something complex here - socially, medically, legally and constitutionally. I think it is wise to take this approach," he argued.

Corkman

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