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Dublin: 19 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020
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Anti-abortion protester convicted of harassment outside Belfast clinic

Bernadette Smyth is appealing the decision.

Bernadette Smyth leaving Belfast Magistrates' Court yesterday.
Bernadette Smyth leaving Belfast Magistrates' Court yesterday.
Image: Niall Carson

A PRO-LIFE CAMPAIGNER is to appeal a conviction for harassment handed down in a Belfast court which banned her from being near a Marie Stopes clinic.

Bernadette Smyth was yesterday sentenced to serve 100 hours community service and ordered to pay £2,000 to the clinic director.

Smyth, who is the director of Precious Life, was also ordered not to go within 20 yards of the clinic after she was convicted of stopping and questioning people who were entering.

The restraining order also applies to clinic director and former assembly member Dawn Purvis who was not in court for the ruling but told BBC News that she welcomed the ruling.

“Effectively it creates a buffer-zone around the clinic and ensures that women who are accessing services here won’t be subjected to harassment,” she said.

The Marie Stopes reproductive and sexual health clinic is the first such private clinic opened in Northern Ireland that provides abortions.

It has been the scene of frequent protests for anti-abortion campaigners who have described Smyth’s conviction as a “miscarriage of justice”.

“We will stand 100% with Bernadette as she seeks to have this unfair and unjust charge and sentence overturned,” said Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute.

Smyth’s solicitor Aidan Carlin confirmed that she is to appeal her conviction and sentence with an initial hearing set for 15 January 2015.

Read: Court proceedings started in case of pregnant woman on life support >

Read: Varadkar: Abortion issue is ‘never going to go away’ >

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Rónán Duffy

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