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At Committe Hearings Senators challenge ICCL on funding and advocacy

Senators challenge Irish Council for Civil Liberties on funding and advocacy PLUS abortion supporters seek no term limits in abortion legislation

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has been challenged by Senators on their funding sources and their advocacy role at the Joint Committee hearings on abortion.

The ICCL was giving evidence today to the Committee as part of a session hearing evidence from legal experts.

Senators Paul Bradford and Jim Walsh pointed out that the ICCL was a campaigning organisation, and Senator Walsh noted that the ICCL received almost all its funding from the US billionaire Chuck Feeney.

Feeney's foundation, Atlantic Philantrophies, has given almost €8 million to the ICCL in the past decade.

Pic: Chuck Feeney

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú said that the ICCL's Mark Kelly had previously described Ireland's abortion laws as "antediluvian", and asked if that was the position of the ICCL.

Professor John Crowne asked at what stage of gestation would the Irish Council of Civil Liberties defend the right to life of the fetus.

ICCL representative Alan Brady said that there was a distinction in terms of rights between the fetus and a born child.

Earlier abortion advocates had proposed that no term limits be set in abortion legislation confirming pro-life fears that abortion would be legalised right through all nine months of pregnancy. Ciara Staunton of NUI Galway said that “While this cut-off date is common internationally, I recommend that one should not be included in our legislation,".

Professor William Binchy, of Trinity College Dublin, warned that a liberal abortion regime would follow legislation based on the X case.

He said that if the Oireachtas proceeds on the basis that it is permissible intentionally to terminate the lives of unborn human beings, principled barrier would not stand in the way of extending the circumstances in which these lives may be terminated?"

"Most other countries, which have changed their laws on abortion, have found that further extensions follow as the full implications of the change in underlying values becomes apparent," he warned.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said the, with the exception of Professor Binchy, there had been no diversity of opinion offered at the hearings and that the Legal session had turned out to be a charade.

"It's very disappointing to see that the Committee chose to ask the ICCL along as independent legal experts when in fact, everyone knows they are abortion campaigners," she said.

She noted that the Bar Council had turned down its appointment at the hearing citing a failure amongst its members to agree on the issue.

Hear Senator Jim Walsh calling for a 'just law' which protects baby and mother.

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