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Protests as first Irish abortion clinic opens

THE first legal private abortion clinic to open on the island of Ireland was due to open today amid protests from pro-life campaigners.

The Marie Stopes centre on Belfast's Great Victoria Street offers terminations at €550.

Hundreds of anti-abortionists organised a mass rally to show their opposition.

Paula Davison, from the Precious Life group, said demonstrators have been urged to behave with dignity.

She said: "It is a prayer rally, so obviously it is going to be very peaceful. We do not want any violence or intimidation."

Abortion is only permitted in the North if the life or mental health of the mother is at serious risk.

Liam Gibson, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said his organisation was determined to have the new clinic closed.

He said: "Abortion cannot be offered as a routine service under the law."