Chairperson of Oireachtas Committee on Eighth Amendment defends process

A Senator and TD have claimed the process has 'become a farce'

Chairperson of Oireachtas Committee on Eighth Amendment defends process

Senator Catherine Noone. Photo Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated 21.55

The chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment has rejected claims that anti-abortion members have been treated unfairly.

It comes after Deputy Mattie McGrath and Senator Rónán Mullen said they've worked hard to achieve fairness in what they suggest is "sometimes a very unfriendly atmosphere".

They have claimed the overall process is "scandalously ineffective".

They are describing the process as a propaganda exercise in favour of abortion, and claim pro-life voices have not had a fair hearing.

The suggestions have been rejected by Committee Chairperson, Senator Catherine Noone.

She argued: "I have been very impartial and balanced in terms of time allocation.

"In many instances, Senator Mullen and Deputy McGrath have had more times than other members. So at all times, I feel I have been very fair."

Senator Rónán Mullen and Deputy Mattie McGrath TD with members of the Pro Life Campaign talking to the media. Photo: Sam Boal /RollingNews.ie

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Senator Mullen said: "Over 20 groups and individuals pushing for abortion have been invited before the Committee, while only a handful of pro-life people have been invited."

The two politicians said it was a 'disgrace' that New York based abortion-campaigning group, the Center for Reproductive Rights, was invited to participate while "not a single person representing people saved by the 8th Amendment got called up".

In a statement, Deputy McGrath and Senator Mullen argued: "We’re not directing our criticism at individual members of the Committee but there’s no escaping that this process is entirely skewed and unfair.

"From the get-go, we engaged with this process in a constructive manner and have worked hard to achieve fairness in what is sometimes a very unfriendly atmosphere."

Their statement adds: "Given the way things have developed, it is our 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."

"Divisive, difficult and polarising topic"

Today, GPs and crisis pregnancy experts addressed the Oireachtas Committee, which is considering the recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly.

In their submission to the Committee today, the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) said: "Abortion is a divisive, difficult and polarising topic. Indeed, Irish general practitioners have debated this theme, and similarly to the broader population, we have witnessed conflicting opinions, concerns and beliefs amongst GPs."

"The constitutional criminalisation of abortion in Ireland has made this a more difficult issue to discuss in public. However, crisis pregnancy is a reality facing Irish women. Many Irish women choose to access abortion services, which we must deal with as a society".

Yesterday, the Master of the Rotunda Hospital warned that Irish laws are putting women’s lives at risk.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment last night, Dr Fergal Malone revealed that one patient from his hospital has already died after being forced to travel to the UK for a termination.

He said the 8th Amendment is blocking doctors from offering women proper medical care.