Thursday 29 September 2016

Pro-Life Campaign takes a stand at Ploughing Championships

Published 18/09/2016 | 02:30

Cora Sherlock
Cora Sherlock

The National Ploughing Championships are set to be the next battleground in Ireland's abortion debate as the Pro-Life Campaign take a stand at the event for the first time.

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Volunteers from the anti-abortion campaign will jostle with agri-business, veterinary medicines and food producers among hundreds of stands for the attention of more than 280,000 attendees near Tullamore in a bid to persuade them that the Eighth Amendment shouldn't be repealed.

Last year a poll timed to coincide with the Ploughing Championships found that 64pc of farmers were in favour of repealing the controversial law.

But the Pro-Life Campaign's Cora Sherlock says her organisation is not taking an exhibit stand at the Ploughing Championships due to polls - which she claims are the result of biased media coverage of the debate.

"There will be a lot of people there and I suppose it's just a chance for us to address some of the misinformation that's being spread around at the moment," she told the Sunday Independent.

She accuses the Pro-Choice side of misleading the public on the Eighth Amendment.

Enacted in 1983, the law is a constitutional ban on abortion and proposals on its future - including the possibility of a referendum for its repeal - is to be discussed at a Citizens' Assembly being convened at the request of the Government next month.

"Very often the impression is given that this is sort of a groundswell [of support for repealing the law] building up from the Pro-Choice side. There's no reality to that at all," Ms Sherlock argued.

Ms Sherlock also said her organisation will be at the Ploughing Championships because "the public deserves to hear about the number of lives that have been saved by the Eighth Amendment."

An Irish Examiner poll conducted along with the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) and published during last year's Championship surprisingly found that 64pc of farmers favour repealing the law.

An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll from February this year showed support of 47pc for a repeal among farmers with 30pc against and 23pc undecided.

A spokeswoman for the Abortion Rights Campaign said it has "a policy of dealing in facts" and that information it shares on its website and in publications "is backed up with credible sources."

They won't be at the Ploughing Championships. "We would love to be there, although the cost for a stand is slightly prohibitive for us," she said. An indoor stand costs €1,000 while an outside stand costs €468.

Sunday Independent

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