Barrister set to be appointed independent chair of review into State’s abortion laws

Marie O’Shea will be appointed by Minister for Health following a tender process

The Government is set to appoint barrister Marie O’Shea as the independent chair of the review into the State’s abortion laws, it has emerged.

Ms O’Shea will be appointed by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly following a tender process and will be tasked with compiling a report on the operation of the legislation.

The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 provides for a review of the legislation three years after its implementation.

A public consultation is already under way for organisations, stakeholders, members of the public and advocacy groups working in the area to give their views on the operation of the laws.


Ms O’Shea will then lead the second phase of the review looking at the results of the public consultation, independent research of the experiences of people using the services and research from service providers themselves.


She will then put together her findings produce a final report, with conclusions and any necessary recommendations.

A source said earlier this month that while the review will not be given prescriptive questions around issues like the three-day waiting period for women to access medication, it will examine whatever issues are raised and will make recommendations. This means changes to the law could be made if the Government decides to do so on foot of the chairwoman’s report.

Ms O’Shea has been practising at the Bar since 2004.

It is likely that the final report from the chairwoman will be first given to Mr Donnelly, who will then bring the recommendations to his Cabinet colleagues. Mr Donnelly may then decide to refer the report to an Oireachtas committee and make seek the view of the wider Oireachtas before proceeding with any recommendations, although no final decision has been made on this yet.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times