Simon Harris 'extremely eager' to enact legislation

By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor

The Minister for Health Simon Harris is “extremely eager” to enact legislation, he has told the Irish Examiner.

He will today meet with senior officials to discuss the next steps and to prepare a memorandum for government tomorrow.

Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

He will also brief the opposition and members of the all party Oireachtas Committee who worked on this issue on the next steps.

However, a number of other items need to be advanced including the development of clinical guidance by medical colleges and institutes and the regulation of certain medication for termination.

The Minister hopes with the support of the Oireachtas to be able to pass legislation in the Autumn, a spokeswoman for Mr Harris said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the legislation should be introduced into the Dáil before the summer recess with the second stage debate before the break.

“We have an obligation to honour the will of the people,” he said.

“The debate was about the legislation, so the whole thing has been quite transparent.”

Mr Martin said TDs in his party who opposed the referendum are highly unlikely to seek to filibuster the bill or obstruct it.

“I don't get any sense of that and some have said they will support the bill given the will of the people, notwithstanding their own views,” he added.

Co-Directors of Together For Yes (left to right) Ailbhe Smyth, Grainne Griffin and Orla O'Connor hold a final press conference in Dublin today. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

The Together4Yes campaign group urged TDs and senators to hold special sittings over the summer break to ensure the passage of the legislation.

Group co-ordinator Orla O Connor said: "I certainly think that all of our TDs and senators should really consider a special sitting so that it could be progressed through the summer."

Childrens Minister Katherine Zappone said she would wish to seek to have the legislation passed as quickly as possible but challenges exist.

“We have to wait and see how long that will take. All of us would love to see Second Stage before we rise for the summer. I have spoken to the Attorney General who said it would be quite challenging to complete that bill,” she said.

“It is really important that we have a deep sense of urgency as public representatives to ensure we move as quickly as possible to implement the will of the people,” she said.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty described the calls for special sittings as “not a bad idea”.

“The clear mandate we got from the people is to do this and do it quickly and the sooner we do it, the better,” she said.

Responding to the calls for extra sittings, Fianna Fail's Timmy Dooley said: “I've certainly no issue with that , if the Government are prepared to arrange time I certainly think it would be the right thing to do to get it done.”

Mr Dooley, speaking to RTÉ radio, said many of his party colleagues who opposed the referendum proposal will not block the legislation, saying they will respect the will of the people.

“They will have their own discussions, but I think quite a few will vote in favour of the legislation, I certainly think there will be a majority in the Dáil and the Seanad to get this legislation through. I think some will vote for it and some will abstain,” he added.

Both Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and Labour leader Brendan Howlin called on the government to bring forward, without delay, the necessary legislation.

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