Northern Ireland news

Former Fianna Fáil minister paid for two women to travel to have abortions in England

Former Fianna Fáil minister Mary O'Rourke said she paid for two women to travel to have abortions in England. File picture from Press Association

FORMER Fianna Fáil deputy leader Mary O’Rourke has revealed she paid for two women in the mid-1990s to travel to England for abortions.

Mrs O’Rourke, who retired from politics in 2011, said she helped the two "distressed" women travel to Liverpool and London.

“I remember distinctly helping two women financially, one went to Liverpool and the other went to London to have an abortion. I distinctly remember all the details. I remember the sordid reasons, very sad reasons in which why they were going,” she told the Irish Examiner.

The veteran politician said she was “conflicted and undecided” how to vote in next month's abortion referendum.

"I have been around a long time, and it is exactly why I am undecided," she said.

"But I am not sure, because I have seen too much of life to see it as either black or white. It simply it is not black or white."

Mrs O’Rourke also spoke about the two cases on TV3’s Tonight Show earlier this week.

She said the two women involved were not simply looking for an easy way out.

“They weren’t just saying I just don’t want a baby, no they were not. So I am weighing all that up. I also feel those women did not have access to contraception and it was one of the reasons why it happened like that,” she said.

Asked why she remains conflicted on the issue of abortion Mrs O’Rourke said: "There is no two cases the same, I wish it could be. I wish it could be straight forward for me, but it just isn’t."

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin yesterday launched its campaign supporting repeal of the Eighth Amendment in the May 25 referendum.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was imperative that the amendment, which gives equal weight to the life of the mother and her unborn baby, is repealed.

She and party colleague, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty, commended those who had told their stories about the "complex difficult personal and medical impact" of the amendment.

Ms McDonald noted she is mother to two children, including a teenage daughter.

"I want my daughter and her friends to live in an Ireland where they can make decisions about their own healthcare with the support of their doctors. I want doctors to be able to act in the best interests of their patients in all cases," she said.

Earlier, Save the 8th, a group campaigning for a No vote in the referendum, called on the chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Dr Peter Boylan, to resign following a controversial interview.

Dr Boylan, who supports repealing the amendment, told Hot Press at least three women have died directly as a result of it.

Save the 8th's spokesperson John McGuirk said Dr Boylan should step down from his role as the chair of the Institute.

The group launched a paper yesterday which claimed the government’s abortion Bill “introduces abortion for healthy babies at six months”.

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