DUBLIN, June 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-life advocates in Ireland are calling foul after a top European official has demanded that the Irish government legalize abortion. Thomas Hammarberg, the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe has issued a demand that the Irish coalition government have “more guts” and “clarify” when women can have abortions under the current law. 

The Irish Times reports that Hammarberg was in meetings last week with Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and unnamed “human rights groups.” Hammarberg told the Times that it is “striking” how few of the Council of Europe’s human rights “recommendations” in a 2008 report have been implemented.

“We are used to getting responses from governments, not only in rhetoric but also in some actions. This isn’t the case here,” Hammarberg said.

But Niamh Ui Bhriain of the Life Institute says she smells a set-up, since it is Eamon Gilmore, a strongly Europhile Labour politician, who has been publicly pushing for the country to legalize abortion since before the last general election. Ui Bhriain told LifeSiteNews.com that the whole visit, including the demand and the comments in sympathetic left-leaning media, is the “latest step in a pre-arranged, choreographed” political ploy that is part of a “persistent and aggressive attempt to bully Ireland on abortion.”

Using the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling in the ABC case as a pretext, Eamon Gilmore included abortion legalization as a main plank of the Labour party’s campaign platform, a move that resulted in an abrupt drop in the polls. The court had ruled that while Ireland’s pro-life constitution need not be changed to comply with European human rights treaties, the government needed to “clarify” in what circumstances abortion can be legal.

Now that he is the Deputy Prime Minster and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gilmore, who has strong ties at European bodies, has continued to promise that abortion will be legalized through the application of the ECHR ruling.

In the Republic of Ireland, however, abortion lobby ambitions have been stalled by the structure of Irish law. Legal protections for the unborn are written into the country’s constitution and to change that would require a referendum, a vote that polls show the abortion lobby would lose. In addition, with the severity of the economic downturn, which was supposed to have been prevented by the massive European Union/IMF bank bailout package, the Irish public is even less amenable than usual to European demands.

The Irish people, Uí Bhriain told LSN, are in “no mood to tolerate any more of these relentless and high-handed attempts to have foreign bodies decide Ireland’s laws.”

“And we are more than tired of the tin-pot dictatorship of unelected quangos telling us what to do.”

As for legalization, Uí Bhriain said, it does nothing more than “authorise the use of violence to solve social problems. It’s a cowardly, lazy, regressive solution - and it has been rejected in three different referendums by the Irish people.”

Pro-life groups have corrected Gilmore and other abortion advocates, saying that despite how the ECHR ruling is being interpreted in some quarters, there is no such thing as a “constitutional right” to abortion in Ireland. It remains, they said, a criminal act.

Ireland’s leading pro-life group, Youth Defence, has said that it is strange, given the country’s severe economic situation, that the Council of Europe and the European Court seemed to be “fixated with abortion and with Ireland’s pro-life laws in particular.”

Pro-life advocate and former Member of the European Parliament, Dana Rosemary Scallon, issued a statement saying that the Council of Europe should stay out of Ireland’s business.

“It is not the job of Council of Europe Commissioners to act as tourists going around Europe promoting abortion.

“An unelected Commissioner has no right to bully and intimidate the Irish people or seek out politicians who would provide an ‘open door’ for their agenda.”