Saturday 23 March 2019

Abortion law may face delay as No vote TD wants to add amendments

Independent TD Mattie McGrath
Independent TD Mattie McGrath

The proposed law that will regulate abortion in Ireland may face delay in the Dail after a pro-life TD confirmed he will be tabling "constructive amendments".

The bill is due before the Cabinet on July 10, and will be discussed by TDs on the following two days.

The Dail may delay rising for the summer recess by a week if necessary, in order to ensure it can be sent to the Oireachtas Health Committee.

Following the summer recess, the Dail will consider the report stage of the bill before it is referred to the Seanad.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath, who was one of the most vocal opponents of the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, said he plans to table amendments.

"I have no intention of obstructing this bill, but I certainly have every intention of tabling amendments," he said.

He later said they will be "constructive amendments".

Mr McGrath said they will not be "frivolous", and he hopes the concerns of those who voted No will be taken into account.

Mr McGrath's pledge comes after Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin instructed his TDs that amendments must be filtered through the party's health spokesman, Stephen Donnelly.

Meanwhile, a decision is expected within a fortnight on whether the 1995 Abortion Information Act, which bans doctors from referring women seeking an abortion to the UK, will be repealed.

Attorney General Seamus Woulfe has agreed to review the law, which pro-choice campaigners say is out of date after last week's referendum.


However, it is understood the Government is concerned that moving on certain areas of the existing abortion laws without having new legislation in place could have "unintended consequences".

Sources say Health Minister Simon Harris asked Mr Woulfe to bring forward recommendations for how to proceed.

"The Attorney General is exploring it," a source said.

"There may be scope to have it repealed, but that has yet to be decided and would need co-operation from opposition parties."

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