Summer sittings proposed to help pass abortion legislation

Minister Simon Harris is bringing a timetable to Cabinet

Summer sittings proposed to help pass abortion legislation

Health Minister Simon Harris during the launch of a mobile ad for the Eighth Amendment referendum in Dublin | Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated: 13.20

A number of political parties say they do not mind sitting through the summer recess, if it means passing abortion legislation quickly.

The Cabinet is considering a timeline for new laws.

The Health Minister Simon Harris has committed to publishing legislation for abortion within six weeks to introduce it into the Dáil before the summer break.

He believes it can then pass in the autumn.

The referendum on the Eighth Amendment saw the country vote by a landslide to repeal the measure on Friday.

A spokesperson for Minister Harris said he met senior officials on Monday and will go to Cabinet on Tuesday "with a timetable of next steps which will see the legislation published within six weeks."

He also intends to also meet the opposition and other stakeholders this week.

"Along with the legislation there are important things that need to progress at the same time like the regulation of abortion pills and development of clinical guidelines", the spokesperson said.

The Department of Health has already requested a meeting with relevant medical colleges.

The spokesperson added: "Minister Harris is determined to move quickly but also to ensure we get this right and have a safe service for women.

"He intends to bring the legislation into the Oireachtas before the summer recess and is confident we can complete all the necessary steps this year."

Summer sittings

Fianna Fáil have called for the Dáil to sit during the summer to pass it if needs be.

The Social Democrats Catherine Murphy said they would be happy to if it was necessary.

"I don't think that we should be populist about this, at the same time sitting for the sake of it."

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik sayid there are moves that can be taken right now.

"We could immediately move to delete the criminal sanction from the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, so at least to remove the chill factor and the fear for women and for doctors".

Meanwhile the future of two Sinn Féin TDs is in doubt, after they opposed the Eighth Amendment referendum result.

Carol Nolan, who has been suspended from the party, says she will not vote for the legislation.

In doubt: Sinn Fein's Peadar Toibin on the plinth outside Leinster House | Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

While Peadar Toibin said he hopes to stay in the party.

"I've been a member of Sinn Féin for 20 years, I hope to be a member of Sinn Féin for the next 20 years.

"We've always managed to find a mechanism to get past these difficulties, and I hope that we'll be able to do so in future".

The Dáil will hear statements on the referendum result later.

With reporting from Sean Defoe and Jack Quann