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EU Committee Member criticises exclusion of pro-life groups in Irish Meeting

A member of the EU Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality has criticised the decision of the Committee to exclude any pro-life views from a Dublin meeting of the Committee in European Parliament offices where abortion campaigners have been invited to make their views heard. Polish MEP, Ms Jadwiga Wiśniewska, a member of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, had asked that the pro-life group, Life Institute, be invited to the meeting in Dublin “to balance the meeting which for the moment seems dominated by the political agenda of one side”. 

However, the Committee refused to include any organisations opposing abortion in its consultation, although the Abortion Rights Campaign and the National Women’s Council have been asked to take part.

Several of the MEPs involved, Marie Arena, Maria Noichl and Nessa Childers, will participate in a March for Abortion in Dublin this Saturday.

Ms Wiśniewska pointed out that the EU Committee was not only acting to exclude one-side of the debate, it was also acting outside its powers if it sought to interfere in Ireland’s abortion laws. In a letter to the EU Committee’s chair, Iratxe Garcia Perez MEP, Ms Wiśniewska said that “the Committee’s actions seem to contradict the [EU] Treaties which gives absolutely no right for the European Parliament to discuss issues like abortion which are purely in hands of the Member States. “The Irish Constitution protects the life of the unborn and this provision is in turn protected from EU interference by a Protocol to the Treaties which states clearly that this is not an EU competence. For the FEMM Committee to come to Ireland and seek to promote abortion by meeting targeted organisations is both illegal, exceeding its mandate, and a deliberate interference in internal Irish affairs", she said.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that it would be “fundamentally undemocratic for a EU Committee to exclude pro-life views and only include abortion supporters in a so-called civil society consultation”.

“Such a one-sided consultation would amount to a cynical manipulation which would be unworthy of the European Parliament which claims to be the voice of the people” she said. “Where is the balance, transparency or balanced representation in a consultation where contributions and outcomes are all pre-decided?” she asked. “Most Irish people oppose the abortion-on-demand policy of the Abortion Rights Campaign and the National Women’s Council but they are being excluded from any debate on this issue.

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