Coalition will take action on abortion issue, says Gilmore


The Government is going to “take action” on the abortion issue and doing nothing is “not an option”, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore has said.

He was speaking to reporters after a half-hour meeting at Iveagh House yesterday afternoon with Indian ambassador Debashish Chakravarti arising from the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway last month.

On his way into the meeting, the ambassador said: “I am under instructions from my government to approach the Irish authorities and to convey our concern at this unfortunate, this huge human tragedy.” He added that there was “a great deal of angst and sadness” among the Indian public at the death of Ms Halappanavar at Galway University Hospital on October 28th.

Afterwards, the Tánaiste said he had conveyed to the ambassador the “sympathy and sense of grief of the Irish people” at the tragedy.

Life at risk

He also assured him of the Government’s willingness “to support Savita’s husband and the family in any way we can and to ensure that there is full co-operation with them and that they are involved at all stages of whatever steps are taken”.

Asked what he meant by the term “legal clarity” in the Dáil yesterday, he said: “I think that the women of Ireland are entitled to have legal clarity about what happens in a case where a woman’s life is at risk and where she’s requesting a termination of pregnancy. This issue has been with us in this country for a very long time. This Government decided that we were going to deal with it, that is why we set up the expert group.

“We now have their report and we are examining the content of that report. We are going to take action on this: doing nothing on this issue is not an option.”

When it was put to him that the Taoiseach had said he was not going to be rushed into anything, Mr Gilmore said: “Well, we have to examine the report . The Government has to discuss it. We have to hear what the Minister for Health has had to say about it.

“But the terms of reference of the ABC group emphasise that this is an issue which will not be delayed, that this is something that we will be dealing with and, of course, we are required in any event to make a report to the [European Court of Human Rights] by the end of this month.”

When asked whether the Taoiseach and himself were of one mind, he said: “The approach to this issue was an agreed approach at the time the Government was formed.”