Saturday 24 March 2018

Fitzgerald wants vote on abortion held 'soon'

Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Arthur Carron
Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Arthur Carron
John Downing

John Downing

Justice Minister and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald says Ireland must move to hold a referendum on the abortion issue as soon as possible.

Ms Fitzgerald rejected criticisms by Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald that the Government was engaged in the "politics of delay" in dealing with the issue.

The Justice Minister said it was in Irish women's interests to move forward with a referendum and introduce new law on the issue.

"We have a very, very bad history when it comes to women's reproductive rights," Ms Fitzgerald told the Dáil.

Last month the Citizens' Assembly voted overwhelmingly for women to have the right to abortion in Ireland for the first time in a historic day.

That included 89pc of the Assembly voting in favour of Irish women being given the right to access abortion for a foetal abnormality likely to result in the death, before or shortly after birth, of a child.

It paved the way for a referendum which will see campaigners push for a definitive change in the law to give Irish women the full legal right to abortion.

But first the Citizens' Assembly's views will be considered by a new Oireachtas committee on the matter.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Ms Fitzgerald said that countries around the world found it difficult to come up with a legal framework to regulate abortion.

Her own long-standing belief was that the Constitution was the right place to deal with the issue.

"I do believe a referendum should be held as early as possible," Ms Fitzgerald added.

For Sinn Féin, Ms McDonald said the Citizens' Assembly was part of a Government strategy to avoid the issue and delay the difficult decisions required. "We need a clear signal on when a referendum will be held," Ms McDonald said.

Irish Independent

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