The ICGP’s AGM has voted in favour of the College board commissioning a report into how the ICGP “dealt with” issues raised by members regarding the Eighth Amendment referendum and subsequent legislation.
This report should include how ICGP members’ concerns were ascertained in advance of representations to Oireachtas groups, including the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, according to the motion submitted by the Wexford Faculty.
Additionally, the report should include recommendations on how any identified pitfalls and negative outcomes can be avoided if a similar situation arises in the future.
Proposing the motion on behalf of the Faculty, Wexford GP Dr Catherine O’Donoghue said it had been “a particularly challenging time” in the College.
“I do think there were certain aspects of how we carried out our business as a College in the last 18 months that we need to examine, to try to avoid that should it arise again. Particularly if discussions come up on euthanasia, medically-assisted dying, and we are sought by the Oireachtas to make representations on that.”
Carlow GP Dr Pascal O’Dea said the review should also encompass the College’s presentation to the Citizens Assembly.
Dublin GP Dr Mark Murphy told the meeting a report “could be really welcome for members who are sceptical and distrustful”.
Dr Murphy said he had been involved in communications/policy work with the College and that requests for a number of reports were received with a short turnaround time.
He said College policy was constructed at AGMs and the clear position was “we were split on abortion”. Dr Murphy said “there was a spectrum of opinion” within the College.
In terms of the request from the Citizens’ Assembly, Dr Murphy said the College had a guideline by the women’s health programme on managing crisis pregnancy — “that was the report [submitted]… The same report went in a year later, December 2017 [to the Oireachtas committee] and it is as simple that”.
“The ICGP were decidedly nothing on this issue [in terms of its position on abortion], and I had an issue with that because I have a personal opinion. And I removed myself from the process as soon as the referendum started. There is nothing to hide but I know there is a scepticism and a cynicism, and I would welcome a report to shine that type of transparency that you want. I think it would be really good.”
Meath GP Dr Niall Maguire said the College needed to develop “a more flexible, responsive, emergency method” for consulting with membership.
Dublin GP Dr Ann Phelan said the College had the “right to say no to the Oireachtas committee if we are under pressure and don’t have enough time to consult with enough people to get a representative view”. She said the “intentional taking of the life of the unborn is a crucial ethical issue”.