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Minister rejects abortion law claim


Junior minister Alan Kelly has won his civil case

Junior minister Alan Kelly has won his civil case

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Junior minister Alan Kelly has won his civil case

A junior Labour minister has rejected claims the party is intent on liberalising Ireland's abortion laws once legislation on the X case has passed.

Minister of State Alan Kelly also insisted that secretly recorded remarks from Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain that the new laws were only a starting point would have no effect on the coalition's existing plans.

"We don't believe this story will have any impact on the requirement for the Government to deal with this in the coming weeks and months," Mr Kelly said.

The junior minister at the Department of Transport said he was hopeful the heads of bill for the new legislation would come before Cabinet on Tuesday.

It is understood Fine Gael and Labour are close to agreement on how to deal with the issue of suicide within the legislation and how many doctors will be required to assess a woman seeking a termination in that situation.

The issue has proved thorny for some members of the senior coalition party but Mr Kelly said the coalition was still aiming for the legislation to be passed by the summer.

"The public are ahead of legislators on this issue and I don't in any way see after that it going any further," he told RTE radio of Labour's plans for the law. "This is about believing and trusting women who have had to deal with this issue. For too many years, successive governments didn't deal with this issue. It was irresponsible, it was wrong."

Meanwhile, Mr O Riordain said that a conversation secretly recorded last June by a pro-life activist was done so without his consent or knowledge. The Dublin North Central TD responded to a report in the Sunday Independent that included quotes from the tape in which he indicated the X case legislation could open the doors to more liberalised abortion laws.

In a statement, he said his views and those of Labour on the X case legislation are well-known and that the party is fully committed to passing the legislation - as promised in its pre-election manifesto.

The Government committed to reforming the ban on abortion by July following the death of Savita Halappanavar in a Galway Hospital last year after being denied a termination during miscarriage. A European court ruling also found that a woman in remission from cancer should not have been forced to travel overseas for an abortion.

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