Leading pro-abortion activist appointed head of Ireland’s health service
DUBLIN, July 30, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Irish coalition government is continuing to send signals that a change to the abortion law is on the table. Today pro-life advocates and Opposition party officials are outraged at the appointment of Tony O’Brien as the new Director General of Ireland’s Irish Health Service Executive (HSE). O’Brien comes to the job after years as CEO of the country’s leading abortion promoter, the Irish Family Planning Association (FPA).
Responding to a barrage of criticism, health minister James Reilly has defended the appointment, saying that O’Brien will not be involved in policy making. “Tony O’Brien has demonstrated, in a range of different areas, a capability of implementing progress,” Reilly said in a press release. Referring to the government’s plans of deep cuts to public services, Reilly added, “I have full confidence that Tony O’Brien can lead the organization through a period of significant change.”
The statement has failed to reassure pro-life advocates, however, who speculate that liberal members of the lead coalition partner, Fine Gael, are using political appointments to send a message to the more pro-life majority.
They point to the appointment as a Circuit Court judge of barrister Carmel Stewart, a member of the group who brought the notorious ABC case to the European Court of Human Rights, and the “stacking” of the government’s Expert Group on that ECHR ruling with pro-abortion members.
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O’Brien comes to the job directly from serving as Chief Operating Officer of the Special Delivery Unit in the Department of Health, but through the 1990s, he led the charge for FPA against the country’s constitutional protections for the unborn. FPA is an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation and one of the country’s wealthiest and most aggressive political lobbyists for abortion legalization, as well as providers of abortifacient “contraceptives” to young people. O’Brien served as chief executive of the FPA from December 1991 to August 2002 and was chief executive of the UK Family Planning Association from May 1995 to April 1996.
Despite government denials that the appointment signals a motion towards changing abortion law, pro-life people in Ireland have expressed their outrage at the appointment. Rebecca Roughneen of Youth Defence said, “Political appointments can be strongly indicative of how a particular Minister feels on a given issue.”
She pointed to comments of Eilis O’Regan, Health Correspondent for the Irish Independent, who described O’Brien as being “a key part of the Minister’s inner circle.”
“James Reilly has already caused huge controversy for Fine Gael TDs because of his remarks supporting abortion legislation in the Dáíl. Now this appointment is sending entirely the wrong message to the pro-life majority.”
Pat Buckley, spokesman for the European Life Network, told LifeSiteNews.com that pro-abortion elements in the government have “been developing this strategy for some time”.
“There have been many battles and skirmishes but the appointment of Tony O’Brien can only be viewed as an all-out declaration of war on the unborn by Minister Reilly.
“The minister delayed this appointment until after the Dail went into recess giving no opportunity for debate in the House. Nevertheless it will be firmly opposed,” Buckley said.
The appointment was also slammed by the Opposition’s shadow health minister Billy Kelleher, who accused the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government of “politicising” health care and demanded to know the position of the coalition partners on abortion.
This “inside” appointment, he said, was “anything but open and transparent,” having been carried out without the “proper process in place. He added, “The Minister is continually doing that and I’m just afraid that he is politicising health, putting a kitchen cabinet of his own people in charge of health. It’s could put us in a very difficult position, where you have a minister surrounding himself with his own people and having no accountability.”
The lead opposition party, Fianna Fáil, has forthrightly said http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/irish-gvmt-torn-apart-over-abortion-legalisation-leaders-desperate-to-quash they will not support any change to the law, warning that it would open the abortion floodgates. Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, told the Irish Examiner on the 23rd that his party remained strongly pro-life: “I’m not absolutist in terms of being judgmental on people. But… I think we should do everything we possibly can to preserve the life of the unborn and preserve the life of the mother. And I think we do that in Ireland, actually.”
Writing from London, John Smeaton, head of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has said that Catholic Church authorities should be leading the outcry against the appointment. Pointing to what he said were some recent ambiguous actions over abortion from some of the highest positions in the Catholic Church, Smeaton called on Church leadership to “take off the shelf” the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life and the “duty to oppose” the corruption of young people.
“Will Catholic church leaders stand up and be counted - in Ireland, or in Rome - and try to stop what is almost certain to happen to the Irish people unless they act?” Smeaton wrote.
“Accommodation of the pro-abortion lobby, as we saw in 2009 with Archbishop Rino Fisichella, hasn’t worked. It’s simply served to embolden the most powerful political leaders in the world - Obama in the US, Blair and Cameron in Britain - who know that they can promote their abortion policies without fear of disapproval.”
“It’s time to get up in the pulpits and out in the public square; it’s time to speak the truth and to defend this generation’s families and children - just as the Scottish bishops have done so well over the years and in recent weeks.”
To contact Prime Minister Enda Kenny
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To contact the Department of Health,
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Phone: +353 1 635 4000
Fax: +353 1 6354001
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