Kenny: I won’t be rushed on abortion issue

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will not be “rushed” on the abortion issue, despite James Reilly, the health minister, and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore vowing action will not be delayed.

The Taoiseach struck a different tone from his colleagues, indicating the political difficulties of the emotive issue.

The three men have received copies of the report of the expert group on abortion, which the Cabinet will discuss on Nov 27.

Just three days later, the Government is due to update the Council of Europe on plans to comply with a European Court of Human Rights ruling on the issue.

Speaking in Galway City, the adopted home of the late Savita Halappanavar, Mr Kenny said the report will be made public after going through Cabinet.

However, he stressed he will not be rushed into any decisions. After meeting the Indian ambassador to Ireland, Mr Gilmore said the issue “will not be delayed”.

He said there must be “legal clarity” and pledged to act on the report.

“We are going to take action — doing nothing is not an option.”

Although he has not used the word legislation, Labour’s position is to legislate for the X case. Fine Gael is reluctant.

Dr Reilly acknowledged there were tensions. “You talk about tensions between Fine Gael and Labour, there’s tensions in Fine Gael,” he said.

“Look, there’s huge division in this country, it’s divided the nation several times in the last 20 years.”

How the Government proceeds will hinge on the report’s findings. The group was set up to examine how Ireland will comply with the 2010 ECHR ruling.

Since the 1992 X case Supreme Court verdict, abortion has been allowed when the mother’s life is at risk. But no government has introduced legislation to clarify the matter.

In 2010, the ECHR found a woman’s rights were breached as Ireland failed to provide a legislative procedure by which she could seek an abortion.

Separately, the HSE has identified an international expert in obstetrics and gynaecology for the inquiry into Mrs Halappanavar’s case. Details are set to be delayed until Monday.

Crowds protested at the Irish embassy in New Delhi over the tragedy yesterday.

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