‘Lap-Gate’: Irish MP Grabs Female MP during Debates over Landmark Abortion Bill
A historical decision in the Republic of Ireland, to allow abortion for the first time in certain cases, has been overshadowed by the unbelievably ‘sexist’ behavior of one of the male MPs.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, during a break in the debate on the landmark bill, MP Tom Barry caught on parliamentary camera pulling female colleague Aine Collins onto his lap.
Married father-of-three has since apologized and admitted to the Irish Independent newspaper that he had been drinking in the Dail bar, ‘but not excessively’. Dail Eireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament).
He also said he had apologized to Ms Collins and called the action “disrespectful and inappropriate”. He added, “I spoke to my wife this morning and all she said to me was: ‘you big eejit.’ I feel so embarrassed over this. I feel very upset that it is being described as that [sexist]. I didn’t intend to offend anyone and I can’t offer any excuse other than to put it down to stupidity, naivety and inexperience.”
The Bill was prompted after backlash against strict laws following death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar suffering miscarriage. She was going through a miscarriage 17 weeks into her pregnancy in October, 2012, but doctors would not terminate the pregnancy.
Her husband Praveen Halappanavar claimed the couple had been told a termination was not allowed because ‘Ireland is a Catholic country’, prompting a worldwide outcry.
The Bill called ‘Protection of Life During Pregnancy’ was passed at about 12.30am today after a second late night of debates, with 127 members of the Dail parliament voting in favor and just 31 against.
On Wednesday, the Center for Reproductive Rights, an international pro-choice organization based in New York, said while Ireland was taking an important step towards clarifying the legal criteria for abortion, the parliament and government have kept the law extremely narrow in scope.
The video from ITV, broadcast July 12, 2013.