Together For Yes call for summer Dáil sittings to fast-track abortion law

The Together4Yes campaign group has urged TDs and senators to hold "special sittings" over the summer break to ensure planned 12 week abortion access rules become law by the end of August, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Together For Yes call for summer Dáil sittings to fast-track abortion law

Update: The Together4Yes campaign group has urged TDs and senators to hold "special sittings" over the summer break to ensure planned 12 week abortion access rules become law by the end of August, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Group co-ordinator Orla O Connor said the "scale" of Friday's landslide referendum result means there is no reason to delay the law any further, joining a growing chorus of calls for the Government to speed up its end-of-year timeline plan.

"I think given the scale of the vote, this vote has been phenomenal and people were voting on this legislation as well, so we want to see this progressed as quickly as possible," Ms O Connor said.

Asked if she agreed with Labour, Sinn Féin and Solidarity-People Before Profit's call for the legislation to be passed by summer instead of by later in the year, she added:

"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."

Ms O Connor made the summer sittings call during an end of campaign press conference in which Together For Yes members said the Irish referendum result has been "a beacon of light" for other women facing difficult situations across the globe.

Campaign co-ordinator Ailbhe Smyth thanked voters and took a swipe at claims young people are "snowflakes" by saying they changed the nation and "there was no snowflaking going on", adding a "terrible, obnoxious, odious horror" has been removed from the constitution.

Together For Yes official Gráinne Griffin said the next step for campaigners is to help change abortion laws in Northern Ireland in the same way women in the province helped the campaign in the Republic.

Harris vows to push on with abortion laws after overwhelming vote for reform

Minister for Health Simon Harris has pledged to push forward with new abortion laws after the country voted decisively to remove a constitutional bar on terminations.

Mr Harris will seek cabinet’s backing on Tuesday to draft legislation that would allow abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, subject to medical advice and a cooling-off period, and up to 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left), Minister for Health Simon Harris (right) and Senator Catherine Noone at Dublin Castle for the results of the referendum on the 8th Amendment. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left), Minister for Health Simon Harris (right) and Senator Catherine Noone at Dublin Castle for the results of the referendum on the 8th Amendment. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

The new legal framework will be drafted over the summer and is set to be tabled in the Dáil in the autumn.

Its passage is not expected to meet significant resistance, with a number of prominent anti-abortion TDs acknowledging that the will of the people must be respected.

The Government hopes the new abortion regime will become law by the end of the year.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the new laws could be in place by year's end and that the strength of the vote gives the Government a mandate to press ahead quickly with reform.

"Listening to the arguments on both sides over the past few weeks, I was struck by what we had in common rather than what divided us," he said.

"Both sides expressed a desire to care for women in a crisis, both sides wanted compassion, and both sides wanted to respect human life."

Those campaigning to repeal the Eighth Amendment secured a stunning victory yesterday, after it was confirmed that 66.4% of voters in Friday’s referendum voted Yes.

The Government made clear ahead of the referendum campaign the type of abortion regime it would seek to introduce if the Eighth Amendment was consigned to the history books.

As the result was announced on Saturday, Mr Harris, who was at the forefront of the Yes campaign, told thousands of celebrating pro-choice advocates at Dublin Castle that Ireland would support women in crisis pregnancies.

“Under the Eighth Amendment we used to say to women in crisis: take the boat or take the plane,” he said.

“Today we say, take our hand.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Saturday would be remembered as the day Ireland “embraced our responsibilities as citizens and as a country”.

“The day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light,” he added.

“The day we came of age as a country. The day we took our place among the nations of the world.”

The referendum delivered a conclusive consensus for reform among men and women, nearly all age groups and across most counties in Ireland.

The only constituency among 40 to vote no, narrowly, was Donegal.

The result has also shifted focus to Northern Ireland’s similarly strict abortion regime, with Prime Minister Theresa May facing calls to act.

Northern Ireland will soon become the only part of Britain and Ireland with an almost blanket ban on terminations.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable was among those telling Mrs May to take advantage of the current lack of a devolved administration and push for reform from Westminster.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley claimed the unborn child was the big loser of the referendum, while a leader of the No campaign, Cora Sherlock, said it was a sad day for those who believed in genuine human rights.

- Digital Desk and Press Association

More in this section

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

Home Delivery
logo-ie

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.