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Pro-life campaigners 'gravely concerned' they won't get a fair debate during abortion referendum

 

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Some of the pro-life campaigners at the event in Kilkenny

Some of the pro-life campaigners at the event in Kilkenny

Some of the pro-life campaigners at the event in Kilkenny

Pro-life activists have said they are "gravely concerned" they won't get a fair debate in the run up to the abortion referendum after gardai seized some of their campaign materials.

Gardai took posters of unborn and aborted babies from the Youth Defence Ireland demonstration on High Street in Kilkenny on July 22 after receiving complaints from the public.

Following a recommendation from the Citizen's Assembly, a referendum is set to be held next year on whether Ireland should keep the Eight Amendment, which prohibits abortion by giving equal rights to the mother and the foetus.

Youth Defence Ireland is campaigning for us to maintain the current regulations and alleges they could be discriminated against following the incident last weekend.

Spokeswoman Rebecca Roughneen said: “We had just set up our Life Boards, which are 8-sided wooden boards, and are used to display pro-life information, such as the development of the preborn baby, medical facts, support helplines for women with crisis pregnancy and photographs showing the reality of abortion. 

“These displays are part of our educational outreach ahead of the referendum on the 8th.

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Some of the posters that were on display

Some of the posters that were on display

Some of the posters that were on display

“The gardai demanded that the photographs be covered up despite our letters from gardai explaining that the DPP had previously found the display to be legal. 

“They then returned, and to everyone’s shock, seized both wooden boards, and carried them to a nearby car and drove away.”

She said that the group received a lot of support from the public last weekend.

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Ms Roughneen said: “It was a very peaceful street event which was attracting a lot of support since the referendum is in the news so much these days, and everyone is very concerned in regard to what happened.

“This has very serious implications for a free and fair debate ahead of the referendum on abortion expected in Spring.

 “Pro-abortion protesters were also in Kilkenny but their materials were not interfered with. 

“We had a lot of support from people in Kilkenny that day, with hundreds signing our pro-life petition and more signing up to the Save the 8th campaign. ”

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A poster showing a ten-week-old foetus

A poster showing a ten-week-old foetus

A poster showing a ten-week-old foetus

A spokesman for An Garda Siochana explained they acted after receiving complaints about the display from people.

He said: "In response to a number of complaints from members of the public materials being displayed by a groups holding a roadshows on High Street Kilkenny on the 22/7/2017 were seized by Gardaí. 

"No arrests were made and the event was not being policed at the time. 

"A file is being prepared for the D.P.P. who will make a determination in relation to the matter. 

"An Garda Síochána fully supports and facilitates the right to peaceful protest."


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