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Psychiatrist pulls out of Eighth Amendment Committee appearance

Professor Patricia Casey has accused the committee of being biased.

Noone speaking at the committee's hearing yesterday
Noone speaking at the committee's hearing yesterday
Image: Oireachtas.ie

PSYCHIATRIST PROFESSOR PATRICIA Casey will no longer appear before the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee.

Casey, a professor at UCD’s Department of Adult Psychiatry and a consultant psychiatrist at the Mater Hospital, was due to address the committee next week. She is also a patron of the Iona Institute, which has a pro-life stance.

Committee chairperson Senator Catherine Noone told TheJournal.ie a letter from Casey was circulated to members last night, saying she was “disappointed” by her decision.

Casey accused the committee of being biased and giving preference to pro-choice speakers.

Noone said no issues about Casey’s planned appearance had previously been raised by any TDs or senators on the committee.

Members Mattie McGrath TD and Senator Rónán Mullen have repeatedly accused the committee of having a pro-choice bias. They have said over 20 groups “pushing for abortion” have been invited to attend the committee’s hearings “while only a handful of pro-life people have been invited“.

Ahead of yesterday’s sitting, Mullen said “a few token changes” to the list of invitees being brought before the committee will do nothing to balance “the deep-seated bias that exists in the committee at present”.

“To cobble together some extra pro-life invitees as a late-stage window-dressing exercise would be cynical in the extreme, apart from being extremely disrespectful to the proposed invitees,” he added.

Noone has denied the committee is biased. At the start of yesterday’s session she asked anyone with concerns to address them to her directly and not to the media.

When Mullen criticised the amount of time members have to question the speakers, Noone said he often receives more time than others.

Committee vote 

Yesterday, three medical experts told the committee they believe the Eighth Amendment is not fit for purpose.

Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “I don’t think the Constitution is the place to regulate medical practice. [The Eighth] has caused endless problems … You need to legislate.”

Last night, the committee voted to recommend that the Eighth Amendment should not be retained in full, meaning it will recommend a referendum be held.

Mullen and McGrath opposed the vote taking place, calling it a “farce”. They wanted the vote to be deferred until all witnesses have been heard.

Read: As it happened: ‘The Eighth has caused endless problems, you need to legislate’

Read: Dublin maternity hospital chief says Irish abortion patient died while flying home after termination

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Órla Ryan

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