A Sinn Féin backed bill to impose censorship zones close to abortion facilities passed second stage in the Seanad on Wednesday evening. It moves to committee stage next week where it will receive further consideration.

The bill which was introduced by Sinn Féin senator Paul Garvan would severely restrict the constitutional rights of pro-life individuals, if passed into law by both houses of the Oireachtas.

The bill penalises those wishing to exercise their constitutional right to peacefully protest in public. It would exclude pro-life supporters from assembling in vast areas of cities and towns across the country. In the Sinn Féin sponsored bill, so-called “safe access zones” cover 100 metres around hospitals, GP clinics, and any other premises which fall under the scope of this sweeping bill. The effect of this draconian proposal would be to ban protest marches passing the GPO in Dublin or any other thoroughfare that came within a 100 metres of an abortion facility.

The proposal is a clear attempt to single out pro-life dissent and silence it. In excellent contributions to the Seanad debate on Wednesday evening, senators Rónán Mullen and Sharon Keogan roundly denounced the Sinn Féin led attack on civil liberties and freedom of speech. To view clips of the proceedings, click here.