Government attitudes to abortion consultation a sham – committee members

Government attitudes to abortion consultation a sham – committee members Some of the tens of thousands who took to Dublin's streets for the Rally for Life on Saturday. Photo: John McElroy

Government plans for a referendum on abortion next year reveal consultation exercises as charades, members of the Oireachtas committee on the rights of unborn have said.

Responding to reports that Health Minister Simon Harris has asked officials at the Department of Health to begin drafting legislation to allow for abortion on demand during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, Senator Ronan Mullen said this was pre-empting the work of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.


“It kind of shows what a sham much of the politics in Ireland around consultation tends to be,” Senator Mullen told The Irish Catholic, continuing, “you could say something similar about the water charges committee and the way it operated. You have this pretence at consultation and this pretence of careful deliberation but what is really going on is a choreographing in the same way that the Citizens’ Assembly was a choreography.”

Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath agreed, saying that reports of such legislation being drafted just “gives the whole lie to the whole Citizens’ Assembly”, which he described as “a tool of convenience” and “a con job”.


Noting that the parliamentary committee hasn’t yet done any substantive business and that the Oireachtas itself has yet to discuss the matter, Deputy McGrath took issue also with statements from the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that there will be a referendum on the subject next year.

“If he thinks he can manipulate this from the outside, which he does, it’s despicable and it’s just contempt for the elected members and the Oireachtas. We’d a fair idea this would come, but I didn’t think it’d be as naked and as blunt as this.”