Simon Harris appeals against restarting abortion referendum campaign

Health Minister Simon Harris has appealed to Oireachtas colleagues and others not to restart the abortion referendum campaign now that the courts have cleared the way to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Mr Harris said he will bring legislation to give effect to the referendum before the Dáil in October. But the new regime to lift restrictions on terminations will still not take effect until January.

Speaking as he arrived at the Kennedy Summer School in New Ross, he welcomed Friday's Supreme Court decision which puts an end to challenges to the Yes result in the May referendum.

Mr Harris said he welcomed the fact the challenges had been dealt with.

“The people of Ireland spoke very clearly on this matter in May. And they gave an instruction to myself and colleagues in the Oireachtas to change the law and make sure we care for women in this country with compassion. That is what we now intend to do."

He said he would return to Cabinet this month to seek final approval of the Bill and then seek to reintroduce that in October in the Dail.

“We remain firmly on track to introduce new services in January of next year.”

In the meantime, he said there would be efforts to advance how doctors here could refer women to Britain for terminations while new services here are being arranged.

However, others are calling for the legislation to repeal the Eighth Amendment to be amended when it comes before the Dáil. Former Taoiseach John Bruton is expected to make this call this evening at a pro-life event.

Mr Harris appealed to people not to restart the abortion referendum campaign.

“It is up to any member of the Dail and Seanad to debate the issues. Let's not try to recommence a campaign here or rebegin the debate. I did publish a general scheme before the referendum so that people knew what they were voting on. I really feel that I have a mandate for that piece of legislation.”

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