Saturday 26 May 2018

Harris says graphic poster with aborted foetus 'a low blow'

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath
Retired Supreme Court judge Catherine McGuinness with her grandchildren Maeve Feddis (18) and Cian Parry (16) at the launch of ‘Grandparents for Repeal’. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Shona Murray, Cormac McQuinn and Laura Larkin

Health Minister Simon Harris has described graphic posters erected in his constituency as a "low blow", but said he won't be intimidated.

The posters erected in his Wicklow constituency show his face alongside what appears to be an aborted foetus.

Mr Harris said the posters were "upsetting" for both his family and people locally, including schoolchildren. He appealed to people to return to a civil campaign.

"No matter how upset I am or my family are, it's nowhere near as upsetting as the nine women travelling abroad today from this country to access terminations," he said. "It's nowhere near as upsetting as the three women today who will take abortion pills, alone, isolated and without medical support."

Mr Harris said he will continue his work in calling for a Yes vote.

"I have no intention of being intimidated in any way, shape or form from getting the facts and information out as we enter the last two weeks and a bit of this campaign," he said.

Meanwhile, former ministers Liz McManus (Labour) and Gemma Hussey (Fine Gael) described the depiction on the posters as a "horror show" and the people who support them "hopeless cases".

Ms Hussey and Ms McManus were speaking at the launch of Grandparents for Repeal, a pro-repeal group also involving broadcaster Vincent Browne and retired judge Catherine McGuinness.

Mr Browne was forced to pull out of his appearance at the event at the last minute due to illness, a campaign spokesperson told the Irish Independent.

Ms McManus said the anti- repeal side was 'overdosing' on "unsettling and disturbing" posters. She added that she was the subject of smear campaigns in the past which then resulted in support "going up".

"It's actually disgraceful that children are being exposed to these things," she said in relation to the posters placed outside schools.

Former education minister Gemma Hussey said: "People will say that is not acceptable, and those that accept them are hopeless cases anyway - they were going to vote 'No' anyway".

Ms McManus also welcomed the referendum on abortion, saying the last time Ireland held a vote relating to abortion in 2001, the Oireachtas Committee hearings were addressed by a priest, a Muslim imam, a Jewish rabbi, doctor, lawyer, academic but "never once did we hear from a woman who had actually had an abortion. Never once", she said.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan also criticised the posters on Twitter describing them as "obscene". Mr Harris later welcomed the fact that the posters would be taken down.

A spokesperson for Wicklow County Council has said it has referred the matter to the returning officer.

Irish Independent

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