Mullen denies lack of compassion for women on Dáil visit

Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 01:00

SENATOR RÓNÁN Mullen has denied being disrespectful to women who visited the Dáil to share their experiences of travelling abroad to terminate pregnancies due to fatal foetal abnormalities.

Ruth Bowie, Arlette Lyons, Amanda Mellet and Jenny McDonald met TDs on Wednesday before a Private Members’ Bill on implementing the X case ruling was debated.

Appearing on the Late Late Show on Friday night, one of the women said most of the politicians at the meeting were “compassionate” but that one had been “extremely unpleasant” and had asked what their “real agenda” was.

The women later confirmed that this was Senator Mullen.

James Burke, Ms Mellet’s husband, told The Irish Times that after the meeting Mr Mullen said to him, “You’ve got a bigger agenda here James, don’t you?”

“He said it twice. I was horrified and . . . asked him to leave,” said Mr Burke.

Ms Lyons said Mr Mullen came across as “totally unsympathetic”.

“There we were selling our souls and this man is asking us what our agenda is. Our agenda is that no other woman has to go through what we have,” she said.

Mr Mullen, however, said he was courteous to the women and treated them with respect.

“The suggestion that I was disrespectful is completely untrue. I was deeply conscious of the sensitivity of the matter. Anything I said was in the public forum,” he said. “I do sympathise with them but I believe that abortion is never the solution.”

In situations where a woman is carrying a baby who is not compatible with life outside the womb, Mr Mullen said he would like to see the establishment of perinatal hospices so women could receive a “special level of support”.

There are no such hospitals in Ireland at present.

Mr Mullen’s website was hacked on Saturday evening and down yesterday. Asked whether he knew who was responsible, the Senator said he was aware that some “pranksters” had taken down the site but that he would get it back up.