The Minister for Health has said he is “fully committed” to introducing legislation for safe access zones at healthcare facilities that provide abortion services.
Stephen Donnelly said his priority is women’s healthcare and the provision of safe services for women.
His comments comes after it was reported in the Irish Examiner that the Department of Health said current public order legislation is adequate to deal with anti-abortion protests at clinics and GP surgeries.
The department told the newspaper that the plans to introduce legislation for safe zones had been abandoned.
It also said there was a limited number of reports of protests, adding this was an “extremely positive development”.
The Government had previously committed to bring in safe access zones at healthcare facilities that provide abortion services.
In a statement on Saturday, Mr Donnelly said he will work with department officials to ensure safe access around the facilities.
“As Minister for Health, I am fully committed to the introduction of legislation on safe access zones around our healthcare facilities. This commitment is in the Programme for Government,” he added.
“It was originally intended to provide for safe access to termination of pregnancy services in the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.
“However, a number of legal issues were identified which necessitated further consideration.
“Officials in the Department of Health continue to work with me to ensure safe access around medical facilities.
“I have also been engaging with a range of stakeholders and civil society groups in relation to the review of the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Act which is being finalised with a view to it starting in the coming weeks.
“A priority for me as Minister for Health is women’s healthcare and the provision of safe services for all women.”
Ireland’s strict abortion laws were liberalised following a referendum in May 2018.
The country voted by 66.4 per cent to 33.6 per cent to remove the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution, which outlawed abortion, with more than two million votes cast.