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Dublin: 15°C Saturday 25 June 2022

Protesters with baby coffins plan to return to the National Maternity Hospital this Saturday

The issue was discussed on Liveline earlier today.

Our Lady of Lourdes Protectors group protesting outside the National Maternity Hospital on 6 July.
Our Lady of Lourdes Protectors group protesting outside the National Maternity Hospital on 6 July.
Image: Our Lady of Lourdes Protectors via Facebook

PRO-LIFE PROTESTERS criticised for their recent demonstration outside the National Maternity Hospital are planning to return this Saturday. 

The protest last Saturday was organised by Our Lady of Lourdes Protectors group. A member of the group, Charles Byrne, said they hold a demonstration every week. 

A photograph showing protesters outside the hospital in Dublin city centre with three white child-size coffins drew heavy criticism on Twitter and on RTÉ One’s Liveline today.

“We believe that abortion is a sin and therefore requires public reparation,” Byrne told TheJournal.ie. 

“It’s a stark message. We believe that 5,000 innocent human beings killed by the law so far is unacceptable,” said Byrne.

This figure is based on estimations from the START group, which represents around 250 medical professionals involved in abortion provision. They said its members estimate they are carrying out between 800 and 900 terminations a month.

These figures are unverified. No official figures have been released and none are due to be released until early next year.”

Speaking on Liveline, a patient at the National Maternity Hospital called Lindsey described seeing such protests as “horrific”. 

“That’s not something you want to walk out of the hospital and see,” said Lindsey. 

“Most women that do go through the loss of a baby, they’re leaving the hospital empty handed.”

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said today in a statement that Minister Harris needs to tackle the issue of exclusion zones. 

“The wide reporting of the use of insensitive props at a protest outside Holles Street recently validates calls for exclusion zones,” Senator Bacik said.

“We must pass laws as soon as possible to prevent the intimidation and obstruction of women in a crisis pregnancy who seek to access legal services.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said this demonstration showed disregard for women availing of services at the hospital. 

“Their so called ‘protest’ is grossly insensitive to women who may be in hospital after suffering a miscarriage or women who are receiving the devastating diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality,” the Minister told independent.ie.  

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Many people from both pro-choice and pro-life viewpoints spoke out against the vigil. 

Eilis Mulroy from the Pro-Life Campaign said the PLC was not involved with the event outside the maternity hospital, but that she has concerns over exclusion zones.

“Democracy cannot function if in different areas of life we prohibit our opponents from protesting just because we don’t like their viewpoint or approach,” said Mulroy. 

“The government are selectively seizing on a small number of incidents to justify the introduction of exclusion zones here. It is a totally disproportionate response to the reality of what is happening on the ground and is an attack of freedom of speech and assembly.”

The demonstration was not linked to the recent Rally for Life which also took place in Dublin last Saturday. 

Despite the media attention and criticism of the group’s actions,  Byrne said they are still planning to hold their next demonstration this Saturday outside the hospital. He estimated that 60 people attended last Saturday’s ‘Rosary of Reparation’.

Byrne previously tried to contend the result of the Eighth Amendment referendum in 2018 in the High Court.

The Department of Health and the National Maternity Hospital did not respond in time for comment before publication. 

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