Nesbitt slams Health Department for secrecy on abortion working group panel

Leader of the Opposition, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has slammed the Department of Health for refusing to name the members of the panel looking at potential reform of the abortions laws.

When former Health Minister Simon Hamilton established the working group in February at the request of Arlene Foster, it was supposed to report within no longer than six months, but the Ulster Unionist Party understands it has only met once in the intervening five months.

Mike Nesbitt said:

“I was highly critical of the proposal at the time, as it was clearly a made-up mechanism that spared the DUP from issuing a Petition of Concern to block law reform during the passage of the Justice Bill.

“Now we learn that even though the panel has been established and has met, the Department of Health would not release the names of the panel members when contacted.

“Further, there is no formal mechanism for people to input their views to the panel.

“What a slap in the face to those seeking reform to take account of Fatal Foetal Abnormalities.

“I call on Minister O’Neill to name names immediately, and also make clear how those who have a legitimate interest in this matter can contact the panel to make clear their views.”

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