Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland women 'to get access to abortions in Republic', says Varadkar

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has predicted women from Northern Ireland will have access to abortions in the Republic once new laws are in place after the weekend's referendum result.

In the Dail on Tuesday, he was responding to questions around new laws to be introduced following the yes result in Friday's referendum which paves the way for legalised abortion in the Republic.

To a question from Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Taoiseach Varadkar said it was his impression abortions would be "treated like a normal health service".

"It’s already the case that women who are resident in Northern Ireland, and indeed women who are Irish citizens, can travel to Ireland and avail of health care," he said.

"You already have the case of people who live along the border and their GP might be south of the border. And we already have people who come to our hospitals from Northern Ireland for healthcare.

"So I imagine it will be treated as a normal part of our health service in a normal way but we will need to look into the detail."

Mr Varadkar also spoke about the timeline for introducing legislation for abortion, saying there would be additional sittings of the Dail to facilitate the quicker introduction of legislation, but predicted it would be the beginning of 2019 before anything is in place.

Since the result of the Republic's vote on repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution there has been a focus on Northern Ireland's restrictive abortion laws.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has said a change to abortion law in Northern Ireland has the support of more than 140 of her fellow MPs, and it could be legislated for in the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill.

Responding to the result of Sunday, DUP leader Arlene Foster - whose party's 10 MPs support Theresa May's Conservative Government in a confidence-and-supply agreement - said the result had "no impact upon the law in Northern Ireland".

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