Belfast Telegraph

Larkin clinic probe offer accepted unanimously... despite MLAs’ concerns

Attorney General John Larkin offered to help the committee

By Deborah McAleese

An offer from the Attorney General to assist a justice committee probe into the legality of Ireland’s first abortion clinic has been accepted by Stormont.

Despite voices of opposition from several members throughout the week, the committee unanimously agreed during a public meeting yesterday to invite John Larkin to help.

Alliance committee member Stewart Dickson said last night however that during a private session of the committee, minutes before the public sitting, he raised concerns over the appearance of Mr Larkin in any investigation that the body carried out into the Marie Stopes clinic.

“I remain unconvinced that the Attorney General should play any role in a justice committee investigation into Marie Stopes. I was the sole MLA who raised serious doubt that he should attend any such investigation,” said Mr Dickson.

“While I respect his right to assist a committee, it should be noted that if we require legal advice, we have a well-qualified Assembly legal office to assist us.

“I continue to believe that there is role for the health committee to play in this debate considering the lack of a regulatory framework for Marie Stopes to operate,” Mr Dickson said.

During a radio debate in 2008, which was rebroadcast last week, Mr Larkin compared abortions in certain circumstances to “putting a bullet in the back of the head” of a baby.

Mr Larkin wrote to the justice committee last week urging them to carry out an investigation into the legality of the services Marie Stopes is providing from its new clinic in Belfast.

He offered to assist the committee in any way he could.

There has been no complaint that the Marie Stopes clinic has acted illegally.

Background

Officials from Marie Stopes have been requested to appear before Stormont’s justice committee to answer questions about the legality of its operations at its Belfast clinic.

The committee has accepted an offer from the Attorney General to help them in their probe — despite previous declarations of concern from several politicians about his involvement.

The level of assistance that the Attorney General will provide has yet to be decided by the committee.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph