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Irish report Irish report
by Euro Reporter
2012-03-17 10:10:08
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Expert group on abortion ruling to report by July

The expert group tasked with making recommendations on implementing a European Court of Human Rights ruling on abortion will report to the Government by July, Ireland’s ambassador to the UN has confirmed. Gerard Corr, who appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday, said several countries had made reference to Ireland’s position on abortion and response to the judgment in October, when the State first appeared before the council for peer review. “The expert group, which was established on January 13th, 2012, is composed of 14 experts in the fields of obstetrics, psychiatry, general practice, law, professional regulation and public policy. It is chaired by a judge of the Irish High Court [Mr Justice Seán Ryan] and will present the Government with its written report by end of July this year,” Mr Corr said.

He said of the total 127 recommendations made by member States, Ireland had accepted fully 91. A further 17 had been accepted in part, while 19 had not been supported by Ireland. Meghan Doherty, speaking for the Irish Family Planning Association at the council, said Ireland had rejected six recommendations on “reproductive rights” from Spain, Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands, Norway and Slovenia. “The outright rejection of these recommendations, along with the continued criminalisation of women in Ireland who need access to safe abortion, is astonishing in a State that expresses such respect for human rights,” she said. Patrick Buckley, speaking on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said “the right to life of all members of the human family” was recognised and protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Irish Constitution. He said the will of the Irish people had been expressed through a number of referendums.

Mr Buckley claimed other countries had attempted to instruct Ireland to introduce abortion. “We very much appreciate the fact that the Irish delegation has firmly rejected those calls.” In December 2010, the European Court of Human Rights found that the Irish State had failed to implement existing rights to a lawful abortion where a mother’s life is at risk. While it is lawful for a woman to have an abortion if her life is at risk, following a Supreme Court ruling, successive governments have not legislated for this. Meanwhile, Martin Collins of Pavee Point said he was disappointed at the rejection of a recommendation from Slovakia that Travellers be recognised as an official minority. “We Travellers are incredibly proud to be Irish and willing and demanding to play our part in the Irish nation.” Responding later, Mr Corr said it was not clear that there was complete agreement within the Traveller community that recognition as an ethnic group would be a desirable or useful step. He also said there was no objective basis for allegations made by the Iranian delegation at the council. An Iranian spokesman had been strongly critical of Ireland, saying he was concerned about incidents of discrimination against Muslims and others.


Austerity making Ireland competitive

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has given an upbeat assessment of the Irish economy, saying that if the world economy raises Ireland's economy would "take off like a rocket." This was because the austerity policies of the past three years had made the country "so competitive", he said. Mr Noonan was speaking after ringing the bell to mark the opening of European stock markets at the Euronext/NYSE stock exchange in Paris.

The Minister for Finance predicted that Ireland would have real growth rates of 2% in 2013, but he added: "If the world economy takes off you can add another two point something on it." Distinguishing "real" growth and "nominal" growth, he said: "The real growth, especially in SMEs is what drives the economy and what creates jobs, but the two go together." Nominal growth is normally higher if inflation rises, because inflation increases the volume of tax receipts.

"Inflation has gone up a little bit, so it looks as if inflation is at 2%. I always look at how you put budgets together, so you start with your inflation rate and then you put on growth," he explained. "Nominal growth is the driver of tax receipts and my primary job is to get the fiscal balance in place, so I'm working for nominal growth," Mr Noonan said. Mr Noonan said that Ireland's competitiveness level had increased by 16% due to the effect of austerity policies, however painful these policies were.


Ireland's writers return home for inspiration

As you drink a pint of Guinness or eat your corned beef and cabbage at the local Irish pub on St. Patrick's Day, consider the far-flung corners of Ireland where inspiration flourishes.

"The Irish landscape isn't always straightforward; its many layers of stone walls and hedgerows and its constantly changing light mean that it unfolds slowly as you walk, cycle or drive by," says Etain O'Carroll, co-author of Lonely Planet's 2012 Ireland guidebook.

"Our mercurial weather also gives it an ethereal quality," says O'Carroll. "The dappled light and scurrying clouds, mists and rain showers mean you often catch no more than a tantalizing glimpse of a view. You've got to be patient and let the landscape reveal itself in its own time, and when it does you feel like you might be the only one to have ever seen it in quite the same way."

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