Ireland must clarify abortion laws, says EU head
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.
The State was not involved in providing childcare, forcing low-paid women in particular out of work because of the high costs involved, said Orla O’Connor, director of the women’s council. More than 85 per cent of women who did not have children were employed but this dropped to between 57 and 58 per cent for women who did have children. “You have got to be in a well paid enough job to pay for childcare and after-school care,” Ms O’Connor said.
Women were in a “triple lock” since they were caring for children, doing domestic work and working in paid employment.
“It really gives a strong message about who has the responsibility for care,” she added.