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Timetable for abortion legislation is 'tight'

Minister James Reilly is determined to publish legislation before the end of July.
May 22nd 2013, 3:04 PM 4,194 21

THE POLITICIAN IN charge of reporting back to the government about expert testimony ahead of new abortion legislation has conceded that the publishing timetable is “tight” ahead of the summer recess.

“But I think it can be done,” Jerry Buttimer told TheJournal.ie earlier today. “We certainly need to reflect on the hearings but the committee will report its findings next Thursday, 30 May.”

Speaking in Dublin today, Minister for Health James Reilly told reporters that he would do “everything that is humanly possible” to ensure the laws are brought before the end of July.

“There is a big job of work to be done and nobody is underestimating that,” he said, adding that it is important everybody is given an opportunity to make a contribution to the process.

The possibility of the Dáil sitting extra hours – or even days – has been mooted to ensure the bill is pushed through before the deadline passes.

Buttimer said he is pleased that the committee hearings helped gather the different viewpoints on what is a “sensitive social matter”. He noted that with such a complex issue, tensions are bound to run high but that the proceedings were held in an “calm and dignified manner”.

He has come in for some criticism from Independent Oireachtas members Senator Rónán Mullen and TD Mattie McGrath today for remarks made on morning radio shows.

In a statement, Mullen described the hearings as a “deliberate exercise in non-consultation” during which the government showed no willingness to revisit the “controversial essence of its bill”.

Buttimer had no comment to make on the individual statements.

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Sinead O'Carroll

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