Minister for Justice examining UN abortion proposals

Frances Fitzgerald however said Ireland had its own legal and Constitutional position on abortion

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 01:01

The Government would “examine” the United Nations’ call for a referendum on abortion, said the Minister for Justice.

Frances Fitzgerald however said Ireland had its own legal and Constitutional position on the issue.

Minister Fitzgerald last week led an Irish Government delegation to the UN’s Human Rights Committee in Geneva where she set out the State’s position on a range of human rights.

Robust questioning

She faced robust questioning on abortion and symphysiotomy in particular.

“There is a whole series of recommendations from the UN committee,” she said. “We are involved in that as part of our international obligations, but . . . Ireland has its own legal and constitutional position. But we will be examining that report.”

Commenting on the Committee’s recommendations on symphysiotomy, the Minister said the Government had put €34 million “on the table to help and support the women who suffered this barbaric procedure”.

The Government’s ex gratia compensation scheme for survivors has been rejected by the main group supporting survivors as it comes without accountability.

‘Time to act’

“I have no doubt we the Government, and the Minister for Health in particular, will continue to work with the groups who are representing the women in the coming weeks and months,” said Minister Fitzgerald.

Betty Purcell, spokeswoman for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said the conclusions were clear. “Now it is time for the State to act. The IHREC calls on the State to debate the conclusions in the Oireachtas and to set up a parliamentary oversight mechanism to that end.

“It also calls on the Government to establish a cross-departmental task force to address, in a timely way, how the State will implement the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee.”

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is seeking an Oireachtas debate on the “damning” conclusions.

“The ICCL is also calling for the creation of an effective national implementation mechanism to ensure that the UN’s clear recommendations are implemented in full,” said director, Mark Kelly.