The two Government parties are divided over a European Parliament report criticising some member states over abortion.

The report on fundamental freedoms in the EU will be voted on in Strasbourg this week and raises concerns at restrictions on “safe and legal abortion”.

Fine Gael’s political group in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party, is opposing the report while Labour MEPs, part of the Socialist group, are expected to vote for it. “I would be happy to vote for it . . . everything in this document is in line with Labour Party policy,” said Emer Costello, MEP for Dublin.

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The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers will today assess the Irish government’s action plan on the implementation of abortion law.

This action plan has been designed to address the judgement in 2010 in the case of he A, B And C vs Ireland whereby the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland had violated the human rights of a woman who had been unable to determine whether or not she qualified for a lawful abortion.

The government presented the new action plan outlining how it will implement this legally-binding judgment following an expert group report on abortion. The action plan will be assessed by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, the political governing body of the European human rights authority, which is meeting in Strasbourg today.

Ireland’s human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) today welcomed the action plan promise to ensure that the judgment is “implemented expeditiously”, which the Council claims will require speedy reform of Ireland’s “wholly outmoded” abortion laws.

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"International human rights groups" have contacted the husband of the late Savita Halappanavar and have pledged to help him in his European court battle.

Praveen Halappanavar’s solicitor, Gerard O’Donnell, revealed the situation to the Irish Examiner after the deadline the widower gave for an independent State inquiry to be set up passed yesterday without progress. 

Mr O’Donnell said that three days after he wrote to Health Minister James Reilly on the matter, the only response had been a note on Wednesday evening confirming the correspondence had been received. 

Mr O’Donnell said he and his client are now committing to taking a European Court of Human Rights case against the State — with the move receiving "international" support. 

"Given the huge amount of international attention this has received we do have offers of help from people in human rights groups [in relation to the case]. 

"There are a wealth of people, from Britain and elsewhere, who said they want to offer their services to Praveen. Some of these organisations are known internationally, although I don’t wish to name them yet," the solicitor said. 

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny has moved to defuse public controversy and tensions between the Coalition parties over abortion by promising swift action and calling for a “calm, rational and sensitive discussion”.

However, there was adverse reaction within his own party, with a number of Fine Gael backbenchers complaining that they were being “press-ganged” into moving too rapidly to deal with the matter.

The report of the expert group set up after the 2010 European Court of Human Rights judgment against Ireland on abortion was discussed at Cabinet yesterday morning and subsequently published online.

The report contained four options for the Government, but leaned heavily in favour of a flexible combination of legislation and regulations.

A Dáil debate on the report starts on Tuesday, and Mr Kenny said he would “provide as much time as people desire”.

The Taoiseach said that prior to the Dáil going into recess for Christmas “the Government will make its view known, arising from those discussions and our own views, regarding which option it decides to pursue”.

From January 8th-10th and before the Dáil resumes the Joint Committee on Health and Children will hold public hearings on whatever option is chosen.

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TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has ordered Labour ministers to push for action on the controversial abortion issue despite his absence from Cabinet today.

And his party colleague, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, has warned there will be "consequences" for TDs who vote against the Government on the contentious issue.

The death of Savita Halappanavar has propelled the issue to the top of the political agenda and the Cabinet will today decide on the coalition response to a Sinn Fein motion calling for immediate legislation.

But Mr Gilmore will miss the key meeting as he is attending a crucial gathering of EU foreign affairs ministers in Brussels about agreeing the €1 trillion EU budget for 2014-2020.

A Labour source said its ministers were "very clear" about Mr Gilmore's desire to get legal clarity on abortions when a pregnant mother's life was at risk.

"We want a decision as quickly as possible," the source said.

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The letter expresses shock at Savita Halappanavar’s death and expresses sympathy with her family. It adds: “The tragedy highlights the need for immediate action to introduce legislation for abortion in Ireland. Despite the ruling of the Supreme Court in Ireland in the X case, that abortion should be permitted in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, successive governments have failed to legislate for this. In the A, B and C v Ireland case, the European Court of Human Rights found that Ireland had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an accessible and effective procedure by which a woman can have established whether she qualifies for a legal abortion under current Irish law.

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