ICCL calls on Government to release AG's "legal advice" on foetal abnormality legislation

ICCL calls on Government to release AG's "legal advice" on foetal abnormality legislation

"Legal privilege should be waived", Council says

ICCL Press release, 10 February 2015

Ireland's independent human rights watchdog the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has today (Tuesday 10 February 2015) called on the Government to waive its lawyer-client privilege and make public the Attorney General's full advice on the constitutionality of fatal foetal abnormality legislation so that TDs can make an "informed decision" later today in the Dáil.

Speaking this morning, in advance of the Dáil vote and other meetings of parliamentarians, ICCL Director Mark Kelly said:

"The ICCL has been amongst a phalanx of legal experts whose analysis has demonstrated that it is possible to legislate for the termination of pregnancies in cases involving fatal foetal abnormalities without offending Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution."

Mark Kelly continued:

"Apparently, legal advice to the Government from the Attorney General, so far seen only by a select few senior Ministers, suggests otherwise. If the Attorney General has identified genuine constitutional impediments to legislation, it would be appropriate for the Government to waive its lawyer-client privilege and make her advice available in full to TDs before they are called upon to vote today."

"If rank-and-file politicians are to be treated as lobby fodder on such a significant human dignity issue, the very least that the Government can do is equip them to make an informed decision, based on the full facts", Mr Kelly concluded.


Walter Jayawardene

Communications Manager

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

9-13 Blackhall Place

Tel. + 353 1 799 4503

Mob: +353 87 9981574  

E-mail  walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie



•             During Oireachtas Health Committee debates in January 2013 around the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties argued that provision should be made in the legislation for terminations in the case of 'lethal foetal abnormality' and that such provision would be constitutional. A transcript of the ICCL's presentation to the Committee can be read at http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20Authoring/DebatesWebPack.nsf/committeetakes/HEJ2013010900015?opendocument  

•             Barrister and Medic Dr Simon Mills also made the case to the Committee that such provisions would be constitutional. A paper by him and Shane Glackin outlining their analysis can be read online in the Irish Journal of Legal Studies at http://ijls.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/IJLS_Vol_3_Issue_3_Article_5_Glachin_Mills.pdf

•             The Constitutional permissibility of terminations in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities is the subject of wide agreement in the legal community, as evidenced by a joint letter sent to the Irish Times on 13 June 2013 by over forty legal academics – see letter, reproduced on the Human Rights in Ireland Blog, at http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://humanrights.ie/constitution-of-ireland/letter-to-the-irish-times-on-abortion-legislation-and-fatal-foetal-abnormalities/

•             Clare Daly's Protection of Life in Pregnancy (Amendment) (Fatal Foetal Abnormalities) Bill 2013 can be viewed at: http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/bills28/bills/2013/11513/b11513d.pdf

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