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MEPs visit Ireland in heat of abortion debate

[European Parliament, Brussels, 30 November 2012] A delegation from Women’s rights and gender equality committee visited Dublin, Ireland on 29-30 November in the context of Ireland’s upcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The aim of the visit was to learn about gender equality policies in Ireland and exchange views about the Presidency programme in the field of gender equality.

The delegation visit coincided with the long-awaited publication of an experts’ report on the obligation of Ireland to bring its legal framework on the right to abortion in line with a judgment of the ECHR in 2010; this issue was thus, inevitably raised at the meetings held by the delegation.

At the conclusion of the visit the Chair of the Committee, Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL, Sweden) said: "Our meetings with the official bodies and civil society in Dublin assured us that Ireland is committed to gender equality and will continue to keep it on the domestic and EU political agenda. We also had the opportunity to learn about the current debate about abortion in Ireland. Our discussions promise a successful cooperation with the Irish Presidency in the field of gender equality."

Over the course of the two days visit, members of the delegation met Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State with responsibility for disability, older people, equality & mental health, Lucinda Creighton TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for European affairs, as well as senior staff from the government department dealing with gender issues, such as the Gender equality division, the National office for the prevention of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and the Anti human trafficking unit. The delegation also held meetings with Members of the Joint Committee on justice, defence and equality, Houses of the Oireachtas, and representatives of The Equality Authority, The Equality Tribunal, as well as the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC).

The topics of the discussions at the different official meetings were amongst others: women’s social and economic situation, especially in the light of the economic crisis, gender-based violence, trafficking, the implementation and monitoring of existing gender equality legislation.
At a joint meeting with representatives of non-governmental organisations, Members discussed the current issues related to women’s rights and gender equality in Ireland. This discussion was followed by a panel discussion on women’s role in politics with relevant NGOs.

Members of the EP delegation are Mikael GUSTAFSSON, (GUE/NGL, Sweden), Chair of the Committee on women’s rights and gender equality, Astrid LULLING (EPP, Luxembourg), Minodora CLIVETI (S&D, Romania), Angelika WERTHMANN (ALDE, Austria) and Marije CORNELISSEN (Greens/EFA, The Netherlands).

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