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