Monday 20 May 2019

Exclusion zones necessary to prevent 'vulgar, indecent' protesting outside maternity hospitals - Simon Harris

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA

Shona Murray

Health Minister Simon Harris has reiterated his "determination" to apply restrictions on protesting outside centres where abortion services are offered.

It follows another incident involving the use of graphic imagery placed outside one the country’s busiest maternity hospitals.

The Rotunda Hospital had to turn to twitter to warn patients of the grotesque imagery before attending the hospital.

“I’m extraordinarily concerned with the scenes that we saw at our national maternity hospitals at the Rotunda," Minister Harris said.

“The idea that a maternity hospital would have to take to Twitter to issue guidance to women attending our maternity hospitals to make them aware of the fact that there were people protesting with vulgar images should be a cause of great concern for any decent person in this country regardless of their view on the Eighth Amendment."

“Women need to use our maternity services and they need to be able to use them in a way that is not in any way impeded by people carrying out protests.

“I’m determined to do something about this in terms of exclusion zones."

But, Mr Harris added that it shouldn’t take the passing of any piece of law “for people to act with basic decency at their core," and condemned the behaviour of the protestors.

Meanwhile, Mr Harris confirmed that the Eighth Amendment remained intact in the Irish constitution and would do so until President Michael D. Higgins has the power to sign the completed referendum bill.

The president is impeded in doing so due to three separate applications challenging the referendum result.

The applications are due to be heard by the president of the High Court on June 26.

The referendum can only take effect when legal challenges are finished.

Meanwhile the minister says the legislation won’t be ready until early Autumn, but says the government is 'on track' for the services to be in place by January 1st 2019.

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