Civil liberty group’s call for safe access zones dubbed ‘absurd’

Civil liberty group’s call for safe access zones dubbed ‘absurd’ Niamh Uí Bhriain, Photo Credit: Chai Brady

Recommendations given to Health Minister Simon Harris calling for ‘safe access zones’ which would make it illegal to hold vigils outside places that provide abortion have been dubbed “absurd” by the Life Institute.

Director of the institute, Niamh Uí Bhriain said the Irish Council for Civil Liberties position on safe access zones is “nonsensical”.

“The ICCL say they’ve ‘investigated’ what’s happening during pro-life vigils, but, just as the Garda Commissioner previously reported, they were not able to show any evidence of harassment or intimidation,” she said.

The ICCL’s report, published last week, states that the zones would be used to limit currently legal activities or displays designed to “obstruct, intimidate, distress, harass, deter or otherwise interfere with a person’s right to access abortion services safely, privately and with dignity…”

They say that staff members of abortion providers described being “physically and verbally accosted and harassed, while individuals attempting to access services at the clinics have been harassed in ways ranging from having holy water thrown at them to verbal intimidation”.

Mrs Uí Bhriain said: “It is absolutely absurd for an organisation which purports to protect civil liberties to campaign against the right to peaceful protest.

“The ICCL’s claim that one right must be restricted to protect another does not hold water here. This is a case of ideology driving a desire to curtail civil liberties, and it should be strongly resisted. The right to peaceful protest and assembly must be upheld, and pro-life people must be allowed to hold vigils and to pray.”