Stephen Donnelly ignored Garda advice on exclusion zones, says PLC

Appeasing a group of radical pro-abortion campaigners, rather than following Garda advice, drove last week’s proposal for exclusion zones, according to the Pro-Life Campaign.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly presented the so-called ‘Safe Access Zones’ legislative proposal to Cabinet last Tuesday to ban peaceful pro-life protests close to abortion facilities.

The Pro-Life Campaign said the move was a wholly disproportionate response to the risk that a tiny number of people may at some point in the future engage in harassing behaviour near a facility where abortions are performed.

They added: “Were such incidents to occur, the authorities already have wide-ranging powers to deal with the situation under existing public order laws. Senior members of An Garda Síochána have repeatedly made this point clear to the Minister for Health, yet he and his government colleagues persist in pressing ahead with their regressive and draconian proposal, for no other reason than to appease a group of radical pro-abortion campaigners who have lobbied non-stop for such a law”.

“Minister Donnelly acknowledged in the Seanad as recently as 10th February that introducing such a law ‘pushes up against civil liberties’. He also openly admitted that he was ignoring the advice of An Garda Síochána and instead taking guidance on the matter from radical pro-abortion groups like Together for Safety”.