Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Thursday, 18 October 2012 16:29 UK

Justice Committee

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Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney described a letter from the Attorney General calling for an investigation into a new Marie Stopes clinic as not "the proper way to do business around what is obviously a sensitive and complex issue", on 18 October 2012.

Mr McCartney said John Larkin should have discussed his intentions with the committee before issuing his letter inviting them to launch an investigation.

Members of the Justice Committee agreed to invite representatives from Marie Stopes to explain how they were complying with the criminal law on abortion.

The clinic, offering abortions within the Northern Ireland legal framework, opened in Belfast on 18 October 2012.

Committee chairman Paul Givan of the DUP, who suggested the invitation, said he had contacted the Justice Minster for clarification on the clinic's compliance with the law

Mr Givan said the minister had indicated that the obligation to comply with the criminal law on abortion lay with Marie Stopes.

The SDLP's Alban Maginness of the SDLP said he supported Mr Givan's suggestion.

He was concerned that there did not appear to be any public body to regulate the operations of the clinic.

Jim Wells of the DUP said the Health Committee had received a letter from the RQIA (Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority) stating that it did not hold responsibility for regulating the clinic for compliance..

"The public expect us to be doing something about this," he added.

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott backed the chairman, saying it was "a very delicate matter".

Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney said his party had no desire to see the clinic closing.

"They offer many valuable services," he said.

Mr McCartney referred to the letter from the Attorney General, which had been made public, calling on the Justice Committee to launch an investigation into the clinic.

The Foyle MLA said he felt Mr Larkin could have come to the committee and told them of his intentions.

Justice committee membership


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