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Abortion committee meets for the first time and elects Senator Catherine Noone as chairperson

The Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution met in private today.

FIne Gael Senator Catherine Noone
FIne Gael Senator Catherine Noone
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

FINE GAEL SENATOR Catherine Noone has been elected as the chairperson of the Oireachtas abortion committee.

The 21-person committee met for the first time today, in private.

Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer had been tipped for the position, but it’s understood that Noone was unopposed in her candidacy.

“It’s a great honour and privilege to have been elected chair of the committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues from across the political spectrum to ensure the Committee fulfils its remit,” said Noone.

The special committee is tasked with proposing changes to Ireland’s legislation surrounding abortion (namely, the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution which gives an equal right to life to the mother and the unborn) following on from the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations.

The Assembly, made up of 99 citizens, met over a number of weekends to hear submissions from experts on both the pro-life and pro-choice persuasions.

After a number of weeks, it recommended that the Oireachtas should legislate for abortion and allow abortion without restriction in Ireland.

Referendum

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated that a referendum on the issues will be held next year.

When re-appointing Simon Harris to the role of Health Minister last week, Varadkar said the minister would be responsible for bringing forward legislation to allow for the referendum on the amendment.

The committee will now examine how to proceed, with members scheduled to meet again in two weeks once the report of the Citizen’s Assembly has been received.

The committee is not expected to hold public sessions until September, and must deliver its conclusions and recommendations to both Houses of the Oireachtas within three months of its first public meeting.

The members of the Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution include:

  • James Browne (Fianna Fáil)
  • Lisa Chambers (Fianna Fáil)
  • Ruth Coppinger (Solidarity-People Before Profit)
  • Clare Daly (Independents 4 Change)
  • Bernard Durkan (Fine Gael)
  • Peter Fitzpatrick (Fine Gael)
  • Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil)
  • Mattie McGrath (Rural Independents Group)
  • Catherine Murphy (Social Democrats)
  • Hildegarde Naughton (Fine Gael)
  • Jonathan O’Brien (Sinn Féin)
  • Kate O’Connell (Fine Gael)
  • Louise O’Reilly (Sinn Féin)
  • Jan O’Sullivan (Labour)
  • Anne Rabbitte (Fianna Fáil)
  • Jerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
  • Paul Gavan (Sinn Féin)
  • Ronan Mullen (Independent)
  • Catherine Noone (Fine Gael)
  • Ned O’Sullivan (Fianna Fáil)
  • Lynn Ruane (Independent)

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