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“Abortion Censorship Zones Bill would have draconian consequences for fundamental rights”, says Gerard Herdman, Aontú West Belfast Representative

“Abortion Censorship Zones Bill would have draconian consequences for fundamental rights”, says Gerard Herdman, Aontú West Belfast Representative

MLAs have voted 58-28 in favour of progressing a Green Party Bill at Consideration Stage which would establish ‘safe access zones’ which would criminalise all pro-life activity in the vicinity of abortion clinics or hospitals.

Responding to the Bill’s progression, Aontú Assembly candidate for West Belfast Gerard Herdman said:

“I am dismayed to see this proposed legislation progressing further in the Assembly, with all West Belfast MLAs shamefully supporting it. The Bill would establish censorship zones around abortion clinics and hospitals, effectively criminalising even the most basic pro-life activity including quiet prayer vigils. Based on the 6,412 submissions received from members of the public, a mere 13 voiced their support for the Bill whilst the overwhelming majority of submissions opposed it outright. This reflects a significant discomfort amongst the public with this Bill, which if passed would have draconian consequences for fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

“An argument used by those to support this Bill is that it is urgently needed to address alleged problems of ‘harassment’ or ‘intimidation’ from pro-life activists. These insinuations are unfounded and are insulting to pro-life people who value and respect human life. The Bill is unneeded, as public order legislation already exists to deal with cases of intimidation and harassment. The criminalisation of any actions which may “directly or indirectly” influence a person’s decision to have an abortion is sweepingly broad. Should women contemplating abortion wish to avail of pro-life information or supports, they would not be able to receive it under this proposed law as those offering these optional supports would be treated as criminals.

“My party Aontú are opposed to this Bill. It does nothing to provide pregnant women, especially those facing an unplanned pregnancy, with any positive supports and simply sets them on a one-track path towards abortion. As a candidate in West Belfast, I am calling for greater supports for women in unplanned pregnancies and new measures to ensure they receive information on positive alternatives for continuing with their pregnancy. This Bill fails to do that, and represents a further betrayal of the traditional republican promise of cherishing all children of the nation equally”

By Aontú Press | 16 March, 2022

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The Irish political system is radically broken

In Ireland the vast majority of elected representatives put a finger in the air to check which way the political wind is blowing. They have one eye on their leaders – seeking brownie points – and another eye keeping their seat safe. If elected reps shut up and do as they’re told, they are promoted; if they stand up for what they believe in, they are demoted. No wonder we have the political class we have. No wonder one point one billion euro is being buried in a hole under the National Children’s Hospital and that Stormont is in stalemate.

Throughout Ireland, many people are now afraid to say what they feel, many are afraid to respectfully engage on a range of different topics. Many feel there is a new censorship and a new political correctness in Ireland, that opposition to the establishment is being deleted.

Respectful opposition is not the enemy. Respectful opposition is a critical element of a functional democracy. Aontú will have the backbone to stand up, without fear, for you.