UNITED NATIONS, October 6, 2011 ( – Leading Irish pro-life organizations have sharply criticized the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter following his appearance at a United Nations hearing in Geneva yesterday where Ireland’s abortion laws came under attack.

The three-hour hearing was part of Ireland’s Universal Periodic Review by the UN, a process which caused controversy during the year when it was used by abortion campaigners to push for the legalization of abortion in Ireland.

At the hearing, Minister Shatter reiterated the stance taken by the government in its National Report to the UN UPR Working Group, when he said that the European Court of Human Rights found that there was an absence of effective procedures to establish a right to termination in Ireland. He added that “Ireland is committed to ensuring that the judgment in this case is implemented expeditiously”.

The Minister was referring to the European Court’s ruling in the ABC case which found that abortion legislation was required in Ireland, and confused abortion with legitimate medical treatment required to protect mothers’ lives.

Ireland’s pro-life laws then came under attack as delegates from Britain, Denmark, Spain and other countries called for Ireland to legalize abortion – with Denmark calling for legislation to allow for abortion on demand.

In response, Minister Shatter claimed that the Irish Supreme Court had decided that it was lawful to terminate a pregnancy in Ireland when it is necessary to preserve the life of the mother, and that the government would address the issue and meet their obligations under the Convention on Human Rights.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said that the Minister’s first obligation was to the Irish people, whose right to decide on abortion and other important issues was enshrined in Article 6 of Ireland’s Constitution.

“Minister Shatter did not refer to the fact that the majority of Irish people oppose abortion, and that the people, rather than the European Court, decide Ireland’s pro-life laws,” she said. “And he failed to point out that Ireland’s leading medical experts had confirmed – before a parliamentary committee – that abortion was never medically necessary.”

“Neither did he acknowledge that the UPR public consultation process organized by the government – which was hailed as being transparent and inclusive of public opinion – showed that a huge majority of those who expressed an opinion, wanted to maintain a ban on abortion,” she continued.

“Instead the Minister chose to let Ireland’s pro-life laws come under attack and failed to represent the pro-life views of the majority of Irish people, who don’t want the UN interfering with our right to protect our mothers and babies ,” said Ms Uí Bhriain. “It was a craven performance, and failed the Irish people and vulnerable mothers and babies”. She added that the Life Institute would act immediately to inform the people as to how their views were being misrepresented.

Katie Robinson of Youth Defence said that it was deeply ironic that Minister Shatter began the hearing by saying that “the government remains steadfast in protecting the most vulnerable” and by acknowledging that in Ireland “children hadn’t been given the protection to which they were entitled”.

“Irish children are entitled first of all to the right to life, and it would seem from today’s performance that Minister Shatter is not committed to protecting that right nor to correctly representing the views of the Irish people,” she said.

The United Nations will issue a report summarizing the discussion and offering recommendations next Monday.