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Youth Defence unrepentant as eight convicted

YOUTH Defence was unrepentant last night after eight pro-life activists were convicted on charges arising out of a mini-riot during a picket of Dublin's then Adelaide Hospital.

Spokesman Justin Barrett one of those fined £100 on a public order charge would not apologise to the upset family of a dying woman in the hospital during the picket because, he said, they did not believe they had caused offence.

He said: ``The State power which executed the babies in the C and X cases is the same one which convicted us.''

Originally, 10 were accused but Judge David Anderson dismissed charges against two. However, he bound all 10 to the peace for a year.

They are: Barrett (28), Dennis Meehan (24), Aidan Kavanagh (30), Michael Quinn (35), Maurice Colgan (25), Christopher Palin (24), Maria Caulfield (26) and her mother Esme, Ciara Ni Aodhan (24) and her sister Aoife (20).

Three were fined £100 each, two given the Probation Act and three ordered to do 100 hours community service and pay fines of between £100 each.

Dublin district court was told in a four-day hearing that ``pandemonium'' broke out when gardai tried to arrest one of the men leading the noisy anti-abortion chant outside the hospital on May 16 last. Despite appeals from a doctor and the son of a dying woman to be quiet, the protest got louder and Garda requests to desist were ignored.

The protesters, most of whom are members of Youth Defence, accused gardai of acting in a violent, over-the-top manner. They denied the noise was too loud.

Oldest protester Esme Caulfield given the Probation Act for obstructing a garda said she was ``not convinced'' there was a sick woman in the hospital.

One organiser, Maurice Colgan fined £200 and ordered to do 100 hours community service said he was told by a hospital switch operator there would be no long-term or ill patients in the hospital on the day of the protest. He declined an invitation to see patients for himself because he believed a journalist and photographer were inside waiting for a ``set-up.''

Maria Caulfield, convicted of assaulting a garda, denied she hit an officer over the head with a placard pole.

Chris Palin, who also assaulted a garda, said he was ``attacked out of the blue and manhandled in a most brutal manner.''

The defendants' lawyer said they may appeal and Judge Anderson set recognisances in their own bonds of £100 each.