Firstly, I would like to first express my deep sadness at the death of Savita Halappanavar and express my condolences to her husband, her family and her friends. I say that both as a parent and a grandparent.

I am very happy to be able to speak in the House on this issue. I think it is only right that every member is able to express their views on the report and to have their constituents hear the voice of the people they elected to represent them.

I have been contacted by hundreds of my constituents expressing their views on the matter, and I want to thank them for doing so. I have never had as much contact from my constituents on a single issue, which I believe speaks volumes about how seriously the people view the matter of the X Case.

As someone who remembers the 1983 referendum I welcome the calmer and rational debate that is taking place now. Those of us who disagreed with the wording in 1983 were subjected to a lot of aggravation at the time, and some of it happened in the work place. Thankfully today we can debate this question more maturely and with greater tolerance.

As Justice Ryan says in the Report, the European Court of Human Rights concluded that there is an existing constitutional right which was identified by the Supreme Court in the X Case, and it is logical and rational that this right should be available and enforceable in law. Article 47 of the European Convention on Human Rights requires this Oireachtas to implement its judgement. As this State ratified that Convention, we cannot make excuses for ignoring this report.

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A Government backbencher has appealed to fellow male TDs to listen very carefully to their female relatives in the debate on abortion.

Labour Dublin South East TD Kevin Humphreys made the call as he said “we’re here talking today about a women’s issue with very few women in this House. And I think it’s time we allowed women to make decisions about their own health.”

Mr Humphreys said his views on the issue were influenced during the 1983 referendum when he was asked to give a number of women in his housing estate a lift to the polling station. Their husbands wouldn’t drive them to the polling station “because they weren’t happy with the way their wives were voting. That has always had a big effect on me since then”.

Appealing to his male colleagues, he called on them to “look and listen very carefully to your wives, your daughters, your sisters, because the legislation and regulation we put through here will deeply affect them and the next generation”.

Mr Humphreys was speaking during the ongoing Dáil debate on the report of the expert group on the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the A, B and C versus Ireland case. He said it was a case again of “men articulating a position on women and their health I find it very difficult to stomach”.

Full article by MARIE O'HALLORAN here

 
 
The head of a European Parliament committee on women’s rights has said Ireland must clarify its abortion laws.

Abortion was a human rights issue, said Mikael Gustafsson, chairman of the committee, which raised its concerns during a meeting with Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch in Dublin this week.

“Ireland really has to have a law which says what is happening on this,” said Mr Gustafsson, a Swedish MEP.

“For me personally abortion is all about women’s choice ... it’s really a matter of human rights,” he said.

Abortion took up half of a three-hour meeting with Ms Lynch on Thursday, Mr Gustafsson said.

Childcare and the lack of women’s representation in the Dáil were other areas of concern to the committee, which was visiting Ireland ahead of the start to its EU presidency in January.

Mr Gustafsson said the 15 per cent representation of women in the Dáil was “really low” and without a proper childcare system women could not become “economically independent and can’t take part in decision-making”.

“Not having paid leave for fathers in Ireland is a political signal ... that this is something that is only a woman’s concern,” he told a meeting with the National Women’s Council, the Rape Crisis Centre, the Migrant Council of Ireland and Safe Ireland, which represents domestic abuse groups.

Full article by Judith Crosbie here

 
 
You might be aware that Labour TDs including myself, did not support Clare Daly’s billon the X case last night. As your TD, I want to explain why I voted No.

In order to succeed in getting legislation for the X case, I, as a legislator, have to work with the reality of the political games that are being played in order to get X case legislation passed into law.

Fine Gael, Labour’s coalition partners would not support Clare Daly’s bill. I believe that Labour Ministers suggested to them that they should support it. But they did not wish to do so – they want to wait to debate the Expert Group Report which has been published recently. This is because Fine Gael and Labour agreed on the Expert Group process a year ago.

Fine Gael now want to see that through. It is clear on reading the Expert Group
report that the Expert Group believes legislation for the X case and regulations for doctors, is the way forward on this matter.

Fine Gael are a very conservative political party. They do not really want legislation. Labour will have to force them to support legislation.

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A LABOUR TD has said that the party “has not voted against the idea of legislating for abortion”.

Ann Phelan TD was speaking following the defeat of Deputy Clare Daly’s abortion bill during Private Members’ Business in the Dáil last night.

Deputy Phelan said that the party “is determined to act on the Expert Group report on abortion and I call on all concerned citizens to help us to deliver the necessary legislation and regulation”.

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The commitment by Taoiseach Enda Kenny that Fine Gael will impose the whip to ensure the passage of legislation covering abortion in limited circumstances is a clear signal that there will not be any serious conflict between the Coalition parties on the issue.

Kenny’s comments yesterday reflect the broad consensus in both Government parties about the need to deal clearly and decisively with the abortion issue in the light of the European Court of Human Rights judgment and the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway University Hospital.

The vast majority of TDs from both parties have been guarded in their comments since the Savita case. They were determined not to say anything to inflame the situation as they feared being dragged back into the kind of bitterness that characterised debate on the abortion issue in previous decades.

Full article by Stephen Collins here

 
 
HEALTH watchdog HIQA has launched a statutory inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar after a miscarriage.

A formal request for a second investigation over Mrs Halappanavar's death in hospital was made by the HSE amid concerns over the independence of its own inquiry.

It came as Labour ministers Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte backed new legislation as the only way to resolve the abortion crisis triggered by Savita’s death.

Her husband, Praveen, is battling the Government to hold a sworn, public inquiry into her death on October 28, which he claims happened after she was denied an abortion as she miscarried.

Mr Halappanavar is considering an application to the European Court of Human Rights to meet his demands for a wider investigation.

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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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TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore is facing a backbench rebellion over a contentious Dail motion on abortion this week, with some Labour TDs warning they may vote against the Government.Sinn Fein has tabled a motion calling on the Dail to legislate for abortion, and some Labour TDs are seriously considering supporting it.

The Government will reject the motion, and vote against it in the Dail on the basis that it is considering its position after receiving the report of the expert group on abortion last week.

Labour chairman Colm Keaveney is warning that the government response must not be "wishy-washy".

Mr Keaveney said there should be a clear "statement of intent" about how the Coalition will deal with abortion.

He also said "there is a lot of work to be done in the next 72 hours" to get the counter-motion right.

And Waterford Labour TD Ciara Conway says she may vote for the Sinn Fein motion if the Government's own motion is not strong enough.

Full article here