Sunday 28 May 2017

Labour accuses SF of dirty tricks on abortion issue

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

LABOUR last night launched a blistering attack on Sinn Fein -- accusing them of "dirty tricks" over pro-life election literature.

Frontbench TD Roisin Shortall said two pieces of pro-life literature were being distributed in the final days of a the campaign -- one of which is from an anonymous organisation but contains the Labour logo.

She said the literature wrongly claimed Labour was in favour of abortion on demand and taking religion out of schools.

Ms Shortall, Labour's spokeswoman on social protection, also claimed that some canvassers in her constituency had been dropping Sinn Fein leaflets and the official pro-life literature together.

"They (Sinn Fein) need to fess up on what they've been doing and the dirty tricks they've been involved in, as do the pro-life campaign who haven't had the courage to tell the truth on this issue," she said.

But her constituency rival, Sinn Fein councillor Dessie Ellis, and Sinn Fein's headquarters firmly denied any connection with the pro-life campaign or with the distribution of its literature.

Mr Ellis insisted his team of canvassers had not delivered any non Sinn Fein literature.

"It (the pro-life literature) has nothing at all to do with us . . . It must have just been a coincidence that our literature arrived in with theirs," he said.

"It has nothing to do with our team. I've total control over our canvasses and it has nothing to do with us."

Nonsense

A spokesman for the party at national level described the Labour claims as "nonsense".

But Ms Shortall last night insisted that official pro-life campaign literature was being dropped with Sinn Fein election literature.

"They are using these scurrilous leaflets from the pro-life campaign which are misrepresenting the Labour Party position entirely and they are using these as a way to try and damage the Labour Party," she said.

"Both organisations have questions to answer about the tactics they are employing."

And she said another "nameless" organisation was distributing leaflets containing the Labour logo.

"There are a lot of people with a particular agenda who want to damage the Labour Party and who have been peddling lies in relation to (our) position on abortion, which we are quite clear about," she said.

"There seems to be a coalition, a strange coalition with bedfellows of Sinn Fein and the pro-life campaign, who together are trying to damage the Labour Party."

The abortion issue has re-emerged as a political issue following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last year. The next government faces a decision on whether to ignore the X case decision, to legislate for it or to rescind the X case ruling by means of a new referendum.

The 1992 X case would make abortion lawful if the life of the mother is at risk.

Fine Gael has said it will establish an all-party committee to consider the implications of the recent ECHR ruling and would make recommendations.

Labour said it would legislate in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment in the X case and the recent ruling by the ECHR.

Efforts to contact the official pro-life campaign at its Baggot Street headquarters were unsuccessful last night.

Irish Independent

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