Safe access for abortion not a priority before recess

New laws guaranteeing that women who seek abortions will have safe access to hospitals is unlikely to be in place by the summer break.

The safe access bill has been pencilled in for pre-legislative scrutiny by the end of July, but has not been included among the 30 priority bills the Government hopes to sign into law by mid-summer.

At its weekly meeting yesterday, cabinet agreed to prioritise 30 pieces of legislation to be brought into law by the summer recess.

The priority legislation was brought to Cabinet by Government chief whip Sean Kyne after consultation with Attorney General Seamus Woulfe, and includes plans to:

  • Establish the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as a stand-alone agency;
  • Place the Land Development Agency on a legal footing;
  • Extend jobseekers benefit to the self-employed;
  • Introduce a mandatory open disclosure system for the health service;
  • Bring in mandatory reporting for firms in relation to the gender pay gap.

The planned changes before the summer break are likely to be welcomed and come as rumours continue to circle over a potential general election in the autumn.

However, it has been noted that other laws, including the safe access bill — which would “ensure safe access to premises at which termination of pregnancy services may be provided” — has been included under the pre-legislative scrutiny and not the priority list.

This means that the new bill is unlikely to be enacted before the summer break.

The planned legislative schedule emerged during a cabinet meeting which also saw significant debate on last week’s climate change report.

A Government spokesperson told reporters Climate Change Minister Richard Bruton welcomes the findings of the report but stopped short of saying he will implement all of the planned measures.

Cabinet has also agreed to appoint another Supreme Court judge to replace the departing Mary Laffoy and Susan Denham, and to make a further appointment to the District Court.

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