Minister accused of 'appeasing' FG conservatives on abortion


THE MINISTER for Health has been accused of being more concerned with appeasing Fine Gael members than legislating on abortion.

The United Left Alliance (ULA) said James Reilly and the Government were procrastinating on the issue, which the Minister has accused the previous six governments of shirking .

The ULA said it was disappointed that a report by a Government-appointed advisory group examining abortion, chaired by Mr Justice Seán Ryan, was unlikely to be published until the end of September.

The group was established in January by Dr Reilly after a 2010 judgment by the European Court of Human Rights which said the rights of a woman with cancer had been violated because she had had to travel outside Ireland for an abortion.

Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch recently said she expected its report to recommend legislation. However, 15 Fine Gael TDs have said they would oppose such legislation and insisted the findings of the expert group be discussed with them before being brought to Cabinet.

Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan TD said Dr Reilly had assured him the party would have “every opportunity to discuss the abortion issue and the report of the expert group” before any Government decision was made.

“It is unacceptable that the Minister for Health appears to be more concerned with appeasing the sensitivities of conservative Fine Gael TDs than he is protecting the health and wellbeing of Irish women,” said ULA TD Joan Collins.

“Irish women have already been waiting for more than 20 years for action [on the X case].”

Ms Collins put forward a Private Members’ Bill on abortion in April with Socialist Party TD Clare Daly and Independent TD Mick Wallace.

It was defeated by 111 votes to 20.

Labour Party policy favours legislation to implement the X case ruling by the Supreme Court but the programme for government commits the Coalition only to setting up an advisory group and considering its recommendations.

Ms Daly said Labour “should stop joining in with Fine Gael’s procrastinating tactics and act”.

A spokesman for Dr Reilly said the date for the publication of the report had been delayed at the request of the expert group, which had sought more time.

He said that all political parties would be given time to discuss the report but that any decisions would ultimately be taken by the Government.