Today, representatives from An Garda Síochána appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Health Committee as part of its pre-legislative scrutiny into proposed legislation that would criminalise pro-life supporters for engaging in peaceful protests within one hundred metres of abortion facilities.
Responding to the appearance, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said:
“The Gardaí confirmed that there have been zero arrests, prosecutions, or otherwise arising from protests outside abortion facilities under current legislation. We can reasonably infer then that there has been no demonstrated cases of harassment or intimidation, which are already crimes under existing law. While there have been small displays opposing abortion, the insinuation that these ‘protests’ constitute a danger towards women is an unjustifiable smear.
“The resounding takeaway of today’s meeting of the Health Committee was that the bill put forward by the Minister has many key and inherent flaws which were identified by An Garda Síochána. Issues were pinpointed about the impracticality of setting the hundred metre exclusion zones. Incredibly, it transpired that the first meeting between An Garda Síochána and the Department of Health only occurred last Monday, 31st October. The mounting problems related to enforceability point to the irresponsibility of allowing legislative proposals to be hijacked by ardent campaigners and ideologues.
“There was a worrying suggestion made by the Garda’s legal representative who discussed a ‘real life example’ of 2,000 people attending a recent march on Parnell Square, which she identified as falling into the prospective zone around the Rotunda. Although she mostly warned about issues related to enforceability of giving individual warnings to 2,000 people and instead proposed an omnibus warning system, it is alarming to suggest that legitimate pro-life marches may fall foul of this draconian law. Urgent clarification is needed on whether the recent pro-life marches and rallies in Dublin, would effectively be banned if this law was enacted in its current form.”