Abor­tion:

McGrath and Mullen claim ma­jor­ity of wit­nesses called are pro-abor­tion Chair­woman calls on mem­bers to make any com­plaints to com­mit­tee

The Irish Times - - Front Page - FIACH KELLY Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent PHO­TO­GRAPH: DARA MAC DÓNAILL

The chair of the Oireach­tas Com­mit­tee on the Eighth Amend­ment has asked two of its mem­bers not to re­sign their po­si­tions:

The chair­woman of the Oireach­tas Com­mit­tee on the Eighth Amend­ment Cather­ine Noone has asked two of its mem­bers who claimed its pro­ceed­ings are “en­tirely skewed and un­fair” not to re­sign their po­si­tions.

Tip­per­ary TD Mat­tie McGrath and Sen­a­tor Rónán Mullen said yes­ter­day that they want the sec­re­tar­iat of the com­mit­tee, as well as Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar, to review how it op­er­ates. They claim that the ma­jor­ity of wit­nesses called be­fore the com­mit­tee are in favour of lib­er­al­is­ing Ire­land’s abor­tion regime.

While they said they are con­sid­er­ing their po­si­tion on the com­mit­tee – which they de­scribed as a “farce” – nei­ther would con­firm whether or not they will ab­sent them­selves from its pro­ceed­ings un­til their con­cerns are ad­dressed.

Mr McGrath and Mr Mullen also said one group, the US-based Cen­ter for Re­pro­duc­tive Rights, listed as wit­nesses, “has been fundrais­ing on­line in the US in re­cent weeks to over­turn Ire­land’s pro-life laws”.

Sneered

Mr McGrath also claimed they are be­ing sneered at by other mem­bers and some com­mit­tee sources con­ceded that they had a point on this front.

It is un­der­stood Ms Noone has asked some mem­bers of the com­mit­tee to be more “pro­fes­sional” in how they in­ter­act with oth­ers.

At a press con­fer­ence out­side Le­in­ster House, Mr Mullen read a state­ment on be­half of him­self and Mr McGrath.

“The news that wit­nesses due be­fore the Joint Oireach­tas Com­mit­tee on the Eighth Amend­ment are also ac­tively fundrais­ing to change Ire­land’s abor­tion laws shows how skewed in favour of abor­tion the com­mit­tee’s work has be­come,” he said.

“At the be­gin­ning of the com­mit­tee’s work, much was made of the fact that we were go­ing to hear from ex­pert wit­nesses but not from ‘ad­vo­cacy groups’. Among the ‘ex­pert wit­nesses’ whose pres­ence at the com­mit­tee the tax­payer is fund­ing, we have the New York-based abor­tion-cam­paign­ing group Cen­ter for Re­pro­duc­tive Rights, which has been fundrais­ing on­line in the US in re­cent weeks to over­turn Ire­land’s pro-life laws.

“We al­ready had se­ri­ous con­cerns about the one-sided na­ture of the process but this lat­est rev­e­la­tion takes things to a whole new level.”

The state­ment added that it is their “hon­est view that the cred­i­bil­ity of the com­mit­tee can­not be re­stored ow­ing to how en­tirely slanted the process has be­come”.

“We are now ac­tively con­sid­er­ing whether there’s any point in our re­main­ing on as mem­bers.”

Ms Noone said: “While they were hav­ing their press con­fer­ence, we were get­ting on with the busi­ness of the com­mit­tee.

“If they have com­plaints to make about the work­ing of the com­mit­tee, they should make them to the com­mit­tee.”

While she was un­happy the com­mit­tee had heard about their con­cerns from the me­dia, she asked both men to stay on.

Im­por­tant

“They have a very im­por­tant voice on the com­mit­tee. They are ask­ing ques­tions that a large por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion want asked.”

She also said she would be “de­lighted” for Mr Mullen and Mr McGrath to in­vite more wit­nesses from “their side of the ar­gu­ment”.

Ms Noone said there had been no follow-up from Mr McGrath or Mr Mullen on two pos­si­ble Amer­i­can wit­nesses

Sen­a­tor Rónán Mullen and Mat­tie McGrath TD ad­dress­ing the me­dia yes­ter­day. they had asked to come be­fore the com­mit­tee.

Yes­ter­day’s sit­ting of the com­mit­tee heard from the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ir­ish Col­lege of Gen­eral Prac­ti­tion­ers who said the the ris­ing use of abor­tion pills or­dered on­line in Ire­land was a “con­cern”.

This was par­tic­u­larly as women who used the pills “may fear pre­sent­ing to Ir­ish health ser­vices if they de­velop prob­lems”, they said.

Dr Bren­dan O’Shea, di­rec­tor of the post­grad­u­ate re­source cen­tre and Dr Karena Han­ley na­tional di­rec­tor of GP train­ing at the ICGP ad­dressed the com­mit­tee on the man­age­ment of cri­sis preg­nancy sit­u­a­tions by GPs.

The group’s sub­mis­sion states it is “likely” that many women who take pills or­dered on­line to in­duce an abor­tion “may not re­port this to Ir­ish doc­tors, which could im­pact their health.”

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