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Labour's rep admits European Court ruling not binding

The Labour Party TD, Alex White, has admitted that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) cannot 'require' Ireland to legislate on abortion, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

His comments were made in response to questions from journalist Sarah McInerney in a lengthy feature on abortion. It was put to Mr White that the Fine Gael TD, Lucinda Creighton, who is a barrister, had told a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting that, unlike a directive from the European Court of Justice, an ECHR judgment is not legally binding.

According to the Sunday Times, White, also a barrister, 'reluctantly' agreed. “The ECHR doesn’t require a state to do something," he admitted, though he argued that the Court's judgments had a "heavy persuasive effect".

Deputy White's remarks were in contrast to earlier claims from Labour that Ireland was required to act on the ECHR ruling in the ABC case - and was required to legislate for abortion.

Other Labour TDs and Senators argued vociferously for abortion legislation in the article, with Anne Ferris, a Labour TD from Wicklow, arguing that "Abortion should be available to every woman who finds herself in a crisis pregnancy."

However the article also noted Fine Gael concerns, saying that the Youth Defence/Life Institute billboards and phone call campaign had made the government nervous of the abortion issue.

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