Bruton cannot say how Government will respond to UN abortion finding

Opposition TDs urge action on Eighth Amendment to Constitution

 

Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said he cannot say what action the Government will take in response to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s finding on Ireland’s abortion ban.

The UN finding that a woman carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality was subjected to discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in the Republic was raised in the Dáil on Thursday.

Mr Bruton, who was taking the Order of Business on the Government’s behalf, said he did not have the opportunity to see the report from the committee.

“I absolutely sympathise with and understand the concern of deputies for any woman with a fatal foetal abnormality,’’ he added.

Mr Bruton said a change would require a constitutional amendment. In the programme for government, there was a commitment to set up a citizens’ assembly within six months to consider all the issues involved, he added.

“The Oireachtas will, of course, have a final decision in this regard,’’ he added.

Independent TD Clare Daly said the committee had issued “a groundbreaking international decision’’ against Ireland.

She asked if the Government would provide compensation for the woman involved.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly said the UN had called on Ireland to legalise practices for pregnancies involving fatal foetal abnormalities. “It is important the voices of women are heard in this chamber,’’ she added.

Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins said a citizens’ convention should not deal with the issue. “We discussed this in the last Dáil in a lot of detail and we should be moving quite quickly now to repeal the eight amendment,’’ she added.

Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan said the discussion in the convention shuld take place as soon as possible.