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importance of life

Mattie McGrath storms out of 'biased' Eighth Amendment Committee

Mattie McGrath had asked members of Sinn Féin to reveal where Jean McConville’s body was buried before storming out. / YouTube

INDEPENDENT TD MATTIE McGrath has stormed out of today’s Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee hearing.

The committee is tasked with weighing up the arguments for and against the retention of the Eighth Amendment.

Just before leaving, the pro-life Tipperary TD had called the committee a “charade” and its chair “biased” before exiting the room.

In the moments before he left, a witness to the committee Professor Veronica O’Keane, Professor of Psychiatry at TCD, had said that she was uncomfortable with the questions McGrath was putting to her, as they were outside her area of expertise.

Then followed a back and forth between the chair of the committee, Senator Catherine Noone, and McGrath about the processes of the committee, what was and wasn’t allowed, and whether there was a bias present.

After some time, Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield asked how McGrath’s “6 minutes” of time to ask questions were going. McGrath asked whether these “ignorant interruptions” were necessary “from people who won’t tell us where Jean McConville was murdered or hidden”.

(McConville’s body was found on a beach in Louth in 2003.)

original (3) Mattie McGrath Screenshot / Oireachtas TV Screenshot / Oireachtas TV / Oireachtas TV

When Jonathan O’Brien says he was “mesmerised” by the remark, McGrath requested that O’Brien withdraw it.

“I never mesmerised anybody… I’m entitled to come in and speak in this committee, or am I? Or do you want us to leave this committee completely like we threatened to?”

McGrath then left the committee, calling it a “charade” and “biased”.

I’m leaving this charade right now – for today anyway. It’s a total absolute charade from the start.

original (4) Screenshot / Oireachtas TV Screenshot / Oireachtas TV / Oireachtas TV

Before he left, McGrath also hit out at the committee chairperson Noone, accusing her of being biased and failing to keep control. Other committee members quickly defended her, the witness O’Keane included.

It’s not the first time members with pro-life views have called the committee biased – last week, a psychiatrist professor Patricia Casey pulled out of appearing before the committee today due to its bias towards pro-choice speakers.

McGrath 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“.

The chair of the committee, Senator Catherine Noone, has denied any bias.

- With reporting from Órla Ryan

LIVE: ‘The UK path to abortion is a sad and shameful one’

Read: Psychiatrist pulls out of Eighth Amendment Committee appearance

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