Citizens' Assembly chair insists abortion hearings were 'fair and impartial'

Judge Mary Laffoy says "there has been a great element of transparency" about the process

Citizens' Assembly chair insists abortion hearings were 'fair and impartial'

Justice Mary Laffoy. Image:

The chair of the Citizens' Assembly has rejected suggestions that the process she undertook misled the assembly members into endorsing a liberal abortion regime.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy today appeared before the opening session of the Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment.

The Committee must report within three months to recommend a question to be put to the people in a referendum.

The Citizens' Assembly shocked many politicians by voting to recommend access to abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks.

Judge Laffoy today insisted her process was fair, although noted that her one regret with the process she undertook was not looking deeper at the use of abortion pills in Ireland.

She repeatedly dismissed any suggestion that the overall process led to a liberal conclusion.

She told the committee: "You have all of the material. There has been a great element of transparency about that.

"Nothing was hidden. My assessment of it was that it was fair, balanced, impartial. It did not mislead the citizens - it was not responsible for a liberal approach."

She added that the assembly was "quite clear" that the members wanted the issue of termination of pregnancy to be dealt with by legislation rather than through the Constitution.

She noted: "That is the outcome. Whether everyone agrees with it or not... as they say in Irish, an scéal eile."

A group of pro-choice activists dressed as enslaved 'handmaids' from The Handmaid's Tale demonstrated outside Leinster House today ahead of the committee meeting, calling on members to 'not water down' the Assembly's recommendations.

Pro-life protester Tim Jackson, meanwhile, is continuing a hunger strike protest outside the Dáil, demanding that the committee watch a video of an abortion being carried out.

Separate pro-choice and pro-life demonstrations outside Leinster House this afternoon. Photo: Leah Farrell/

Reporting by Chris Donoghue and Stephen McNeice