Abortion demo six overturn convictions
SIX members of anti-abortion group Youth Defence have successfully overturned recorded convictions of obstructing gardai and breaching the Public Order Act at a protest two years ago.
Maurice Colgan, Justin Barrett, Christopher Palin, Ciara Ni Aodain, Esme Caulfield and Michael Quinn had appealed against convictions and sentences ranging from fines to orders to carry out community work.
The court allowed appeals by Quinn, Palin and Caulfield on charges of obstructing gardai but dismissed appeals by Barrett, Ni Aodain and Colgan. It also dismissed Quinn's appeal against breaching the Public Order Act.
Judge Bryan McMahon acceded to an application by Garrett Cooney, counsel for the six, to apply the Probation Act in all appeals not allowed.
Mr Cooney said the incidents involved people of good character who had been caught up in what could best be described as an unfortunate incident.
The judge's decision, which means no conviction will be recorded against any of the six, was accompanied by a warning to all parties that there were a lot of lessons to be learned on both sides.
Constitutional rights had to be respected by everyone, said the judge.
A melee broke out when gardai moved to arrest demonstrators chanting slogans outside Dublin's Adelaide Hospital after concerns about stress caused seriously-ill patients inside.
The abortion issue aroused deep convictions but the case was not about the right to life but to assemble and communicate. Gardai said they were subjected to violence making arrests while appellants claimed unreasonable force.