Issue to be dealt with quickly, says Kenny


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out postponing Government action on abortion until after Ireland’s six-month EU presidency next year.

“Whoever suggested that it will be the second half of next year. . . this is just not true,’’ he said.

The Government had not yet decided on an option, adding that a decision would be made before the House rose for the Christmas recess next month.

The Oireachtas Committee on Health would hold public hearings for three days in early January.

Mr Kenny said he would like to see the issue dealt with “as quickly as is practicable, rather than be forced by pressure from either end of the spectrum here to deal with it’’.

It was a matter on which certainty, reassurance and clarity should be available to clinicians. They must also ensure the concerns expressed around the threat to the life of a mother by suicide were addressed in a realistic fashion.

“I am sure the majority of deputies here, who represent our people, do not want a situation where we have abortion on demand or where it becomes a substitute for contraception,” Mr Kenny said.

Later, United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly moved her revised Private Members’ Bill providing for legislation arising from the Supreme Court judgment in the X case.

The Bill is known as the Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in Case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Women) (No 2) Bill. Ms Daly claimed there was no certainty coming from the Government on the issue, with an argument for more time heard again.

“We are here to say that is simply not good enough. The person who has not got time is Savita Halappanavar,’’ she added. “How many other cases are we going to wait for?’’

Ms Daly said the expert group’s findings were no surprise. “In order to secure a woman’s right to an abortion in these very limited circumstances, there needs to be legislation. The Bill provides the basis for that legislation.’’

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said that whatever decision the Government took it could not provide for the termination of a pregnancy resulting from rape in the absence of the victim being suicidal.

He said: “We cannot provide for the termination of the pregnancy where there is a foetal abnormality which will result in the birth of a baby unable to survive.”

He said rape victims and mothers of babies with foetal abnormalities would continue having to go to Britain. “In the absence of constitutional change, there will continue to be a British solution to this Irish problem.”