Wednesday 28 November 2012
“For the third time this year we are finally discussing an issue when we have the full expert review group report. I compliment Mr. Justice Ryan on his excellent report, and I encourage all citizens to read the report calmly and analytically and then to reflect upon it.
I do not come to this House tonight with the complete answer to what is before us. I am the person in this House who was born out of a crisis pregnancy. I was born early and weighed 2 lb. 11 oz. – look at me now, one might say – but, thankfully, I survived. As citizens and legislators we must end the uncertainty, create certainty and give a sense of confidence to the medical professionals and the women of this country. Let us park our political differences and ideology, whether we are pro-choice, pro-life or whatever. The issue is far too important. For 30-odd years it has bedevilled Irish society and there has been a failure to act by all sides. It behoves all of us, in the interests of everyone, to be calm and to debate the issue. We are going to do that.
Tomorrow 12 months ago, the Government set up the expert review group. Today, within a year, the report has been published and is being debated. The Government has given its clear intent on what will happen in the next couple of months. When the Minister established the review group some people were fearful of what its recommendations would be. I hope those fears have been allayed. What we have is a considered report which sets out options that are practical and consistent with the Constitution and the laws of the State. The report acknowledges that its brief was “to advise the Government on how to give effect to the existing constitutional provisions”, not to change the Constitution. Regardless of our opinions, the debate we are having now is necessary. The debate we will have on the report of the expert review group is warranted. I welcome the fact that every Member of the House will be able to have his or her say. As Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, I very much welcome the fact that when we hold our hearings they will be fair and impartial. We will consult wisely and widely and everyone who wishes to make a contribution will be able to do so.”