Supreme Court to decide whether to hear abortion poll challenge appeal

Refusal would clear way for certification of Eight Amendment referendum result

Three Supreme Court judges will meet on Thursday to decide whether to hear a further appeal by a Dublin woman over the rejection of her bid to challenge the abortion referendum result.

Chief Justice Mr Justice Frank Clarke, Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell and Mr Justice Peter Charleton will meet privately in chambers to consider Joanna Jordan's formal written application for leave to appeal and the State's formal written opposition to that.

Their decision will be issued on a later date via a published written determination.

Ms Jordan, of Upper Glenageary Road, Dún Laoghaire, wants the court to hear her appeal over the Court of Appeal’s upholding of the High Court’s refusal to grant her leave to bring a petition aimed at overturning the Yes result of the May 25th referendum.


Her claims included alleged irregularities in the registration of voters and the conduct of the referendum.

Last July, president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, ruled Ms Jordan had made out no grounds entitling her to bring a petition.

In dismissing her appeal against his decision, the three judge Court of Appeal last month described her claims as a “frustration of the democratic process”.

Ms Jordan then applied to the Supreme Court to hear a further appeal.

Before any appeal can be brought to the Supreme Court, it must decide whether the particular case raises issues of general public importance or an appeal is necessary in the interests of justice.

The State maintains she does not meet those legal criteria.

If the Supreme Court decides to hear an appeal, it is likely to fix an early hearing date for that.

If it refuses to hear an appeal, the way is cleared for the formal certification of the result of the referendum.

More than 1.4 million people voted on May 25th to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution which afforded equal protection for the right to life of the unborn and its mother; 723,632 people voted against repeal.

Once the result is certified, the President can sign the referendum bill, triggering the amendment of the Constitution.

Only then can legislation be introduced in the Oireachtas but preparations in the Department of Health to introduce abortion legislation and to set up abortion services have been continuing.

The Government hopes legislation providing for abortion to be legal in all circumstances up to 12 weeks and in specified cases thereafter will be through the Houses of the Oireachtas and signed into law by the President by the end of October. The intention is that abortion services will be available by early next year.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times