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Second Dublin hotel cancels pro-life meeting after alleged death threats against staff

Two venues have cancelled the event in the last week.

A pro-life protest in 2015.
A pro-life protest in 2015.
Image: RollingNews.ie

A PRO-LIFE group is to hold a demonstration outside a Dublin hotel after it became the second venue to cancel an event in the space of a week.

The Spencer Hotel yesterday contacted Unbroken – a group which supports those who gave birth or were born as a result of rape – to tell its members that it had to cancel the event because of threats made to staff.

The Gibson Hotel similarly cancelled Unbroken’s planned meeting last week.

It has been alleged that staff members received death threats online after it emerged the Spencer Hotel was to host the event after The Gibson cancelled. A complaint has not yet been made to gardaí over the incident but TheJournal.ie has been made aware of the specific nature of the threats.

Unbroken spokeswoman Ciara Murphy told TheJournal.ie that she was “disgusted” when she heard about the cancellation.

“They have cancelled it because of threats… Yesterday, the hotel got in touch and said that they have to put the safety of its staff first. Last week, the Gibson cancelled.

But we are organising a demonstration outside the Spencer Hotel tonight where these women will speak about their experiences. These ladies can’t be silenced.

Laura Ní Chonghaile of Unbroken Ireland, who is a rape survivor, added that she is “tired of being silenced”.

“There is no place in a democratic debate for this extremism, and for shouting down women who have been raped,” Ní Chonghaile said.

Three women, who are all from the US, were due to speak at the hotel about how they gave birth after being raped or how they were conceived through rape. The organisers said the group’s intent is to break down the stigma of being a child or a mother of rape.

In a statement issued yesterday, Clíona Saidléar of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) said it is “critical” that rape survivors are represented respectfully, factually and without judgement given their diversity and the “potential pain this topic causes”.

She noted that rape survivors have “always featured disproportionately in the public debates on abortion access in Ireland”. She said that “we have limited facts about the approximately 5% of all female rape victims who become pregnant”.

For some years RCNI has released data on the pregnancy outcomes for rape survivors attending rape crisis centres. It is critical to always note that these facts do not tell us about the options, intentions, choices and the feelings of rape survivors.

Her statement came in light of two events planned this week. As well as Unbroken’s meeting, the Abortion Rights Campaign held a press conference yesterday ahead of the March for Choice this weekend.

Activist and rape survivor Dominique Meehan, whose rapist was jailed for 12 years in June, attended. She spoke about how the “thought of an unwanted pregnancy” is something all victims deal with, even if they are not pregnant.

“I told my parents that if I’m pregnant we’re going to England. How is that fair for anyone in my situation, knowing that my own government would look at me as a criminal because I couldn’t carry my rapist’s child?” she said.

A referendum on the Eighth Amendment is pencilled in for June or July of next year.

The exact wording of the question to be posed to the electorate has not yet been finalised. Currently, the Committee on the Eighth Amendment is holding weekly meetings to examine the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly. It will provide the Oireachtas with a report in December with a view to informing legislation options.

Earlier this year, the Citizen’s Assembly recommended that the Eighth Amendment should be replaced or amended and that abortion should be legal without restriction up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Both the Gibson and Spencer hotels have been contacted for comment. 

Read: A referendum on the Eighth will be shaped by these 22 politicians. Here are their views on abortion >

Read: ‘The assembly has the advantage of not having to address constituents’: Politicians discuss abortion >

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