Unrest amidst local residents following persistent anti- abortion protests

Local residents surrounding Limerick Maternity hospital are pleading for an end to anti- abortion protests which have been ongoing for the past two weeks.

The residents contacted Together for Safety, alerting them of the protests which have occurred consistently since March 2, which coincides with the beginning of Lent.

These anti- abortion protesters have gathered outside the Limerick Maternity hospital daily.

Together for Safety is a Limerick based group who have launched a National campaign which calls for the implementation of safe access zones around medical facilities, and so banning abortion protests in these areas.

Co-Convenor of Together for Safety, Karen Sugrue explained: “The residents contacted us to say that the protesters are there every day now since Lent began.”

Measures being taken

Speaking on what measures the residents have been taking, Co-Convenor of Together for Safety, Yvie Murphy said:

“They are ringing the Gardaí, but they’ve been told that unless the activities escalate the Gardaí have no powers to take action under existing legislation. They felt there was nothing else they could do so they contacted us.”

“We have a situation now where the hospitals aren’t or wont record complaints, and the gardai can’t act on the complaints made to them.

These protests won’t stop until we have legislation in place.

“We are asking that everyone contact their local TDs and engage with the Abortion Review consultation that is happening at the moment – and send the message to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly that four years is long enough to wait.

“These daily protests and activities in Limerick clearly show the need for urgency. We need this legislation now” said Ms. Murphy.

With reference to a study undertaken by Women’s Council Ireland, whereby 85% of people agree that all individuals accessing and providing abortion care should be protected from threats, harassment, and abuse from anti- abortion protests.

Ms. Sugrue feels that this is an untimely statistic, urging Stephen Donnelly to put a stop to this harassment by bringing in safe access zones.

“This feeds into why large parts of the country currently have no access to abortion services. Maternity hospitals and GPs simply don’t want any kind of anti-choice protestors or activities outside their buildings and for staff, patients, and local residents to feel distressed and that their space and privacy is being invaded,” said Ms Sugrue.

Together for Safety have created an abortion review, open to submissions from the general public.

In a statement released on their Twitter account, they urged people to get involved, saying:

“3 years ago we were promised a #RepealReview and it is happening now!

“While we have come a long way, we still need change. People are still travelling, abortion is still criminalised, and we don’t have #SafeAccessZones.”

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