Sunday 28 December 2014

Shatter condemns 'bullyboy' posters in anti-abortion row

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

Published 13/12/2012 | 05:00

An anti abortion poster on the Ballinteer Road a few hundred meters from Wesley College
An anti abortion poster on the Ballinteer Road a few hundred meters from Wesley College

JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has condemned the publication of "obscene" anti-abortion posters that targeted him personally in his South Dublin constituency.

Posters containing bloodied photographs and the slogan "Every Child Matters Except to Alan Shatter" – with the words "Stop Abortion" underneath – were placed adjacent to a creche as well as the upmarket Wesley College School.

In a statement, Mr Shatter said that those responsible for the posters, which he described as untruthful and illegal, showed a "lack of humanity, insight and compassion".

Disgraceful

"It is regrettable that a minority of individuals are now reverting to the insensitive and disgraceful tactics deployed by the fundamentalist bullyboys who targeted both me and others in the early 1980s when, in advance of the 1983 referendum, I predicted many of the difficulties that have arisen as a result of the incorporation of Article 40.3.3 into our Constitution," said Mr Shatter in a statement.

Mr Shatter has become the most high-profile target of personal attacks on those contributing to the abortion debate ahead of Government plans to implement the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the A, B and C abortion case.

The attacks also follow widespread public debate about Ireland's legal stance of abortion following the death of Indian mother-to-be Savita Halappanavar.

Earlier this month, one of RTE's freelance producers, Pat O'Mahony, labelled Irish Independent columnist David Quinn "a poisonous c**t" on his Twitter page. Mr O'Mahony later apologised to Mr Quinn, who described the tweet as "shocking and unprofessional".

Seamus Dooley, Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, condemned the personal attacks on Mr Shatter.

Mr Dooley also criticised the compilation of a list of alleged pro-choice journalists compiled by public relations consultant and former Libertas communications director John McGuirk.

"I thought we had gone long past the stage of compiling lists of people based on their social and religious belief or non belief," said Mr Dooley.

Mr Dooley said that it is vital that all arguments are respected, adding that no side in the abortion debate has "a monopoly on intolerance".

Mr McGuirk, who will not publish the list but has supplied it to both RTE and the 'Irish Times', said that the list was not intended to intimidate individuals.

"The preponderance of opinion in news journalism is by and large pro choice," said Mr McGuirk, who claimed that this tended to lend itself in news coverage of the controversial issue.

The list of 37 journalists and producers who Mr McGuirk claimed tweeted they were taking part in a pro-choice march, or calling for support for it was cited by 'Irish Times' columnist Breda O'Brien, a patron of the Iona institute.

In her latest column, Ms O'Brien referred to Mr McGuirk's list and stated that it included "some names associated with RTE".

But last Tuesday a clarification was issued by the 'Irish Times' after RTE pointed out that only one staff producer from the broadcaster was on the list and one freelancer who contributes to RTE.

Irish Independent

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