TD says Clinton's remark on health of women 'offensive'

 

A Government backbencher has criticised US secretary of state Hillary Clinton for what he claimed was an “offensive reference” to Ireland’s abortion debate.

Fine Gael TD Michael Creed described the matter as a complex issue and “one for the Irish people and their representatives to decide”. He said “for that reason, I was irked by the offensive reference to the issue by the visiting United States secretary of state Mrs Hillary Clinton”. Mrs Clinton gave a speech in DCU on human rights during her visit to Ireland and spoke about global health programmes.

The Cork East TD said Ireland had an “extremely good record in terms of safety in our maternity hospitals for women and this is newsworthy because it is so rare. That is a fact that holds up to international scrutiny.” He accepted there was a debate “about how those figures are constituted but they hold up to comparison with any country in the developed world, including the United States”.

During her speech Mrs Clinton said global programmes had been refocused to ensure women and girls were saved and their health improved. “So our starting point must be this: women’s lives matter. And promoting the human rights of women begins with saving the lives of women whenever we can.”

Mr Creed was speaking during the ongoing debate in the Dáil on the expert group’s report on abortion and the European Court of Human Rights judgment. A sitting scheduled for Monday to continue the debate has been cancelled because of insufficient speakers on the day. The debate will continue later next week.

During yesterday’s debate, Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell said she wanted what she believed most people wanted, “to protect the lives of women when continuing with a pregnancy would endanger their lives”. The Dublin South TD said: “I want the bar determining where the risk begins set as low as possible.”

Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan said he had heard men make statements on this issue, “but I advise my single male colleagues in this House and beyond to discuss it with women before they make a final judgment on their position”.