In response to a motion being brought to the next meeting of Newry, Mourne, and Down Council by Sinn Féin, Aontú Deputy Leader, Cllr Denise Mullen has expressed her disappointment that a party claiming to support Civil Rights would seek to remove the right to free assembly and peaceful protest because they disagree with such protests.
Cllr Mullen agrees that “Every citizen should be able to live their lives free of harassment. Also every citizen has a right to peacefully protest.”
“We support the Human Right to life of everyone and seek a society that supports both mother and child. We oppose the ending of human life whether legally or illegally. Shockingly we are the only Nationalist/Republican Party with this core value.”
“As a party we have not been involved in vigils or protests outside healthcare centres or hospitals. However the right to peaceful protest is a fundamental corner stone of a liberal democracy. We will stand up for that right even for individuals and groups whose views or methods we disagree with or oppose. Banning peaceful protests and the suppression of these democratic rights has been a tool of authoritarian regimes right around the world. It would be a dangerous step if this precedent was introduced into Ireland. Whose right to protest would be banned next?”
“In Newry, Derry and in towns and cities right across the north Civil Rights protests were once banned by the British and Stormont regimes. Given the experience of our communities, no nationalist, republican or democrat with any sort of memory could vote for or support the suppression of the right to protest.”
“I would have thought that Sinn Féin, a party which was once the victim of censorship by the state and media, would be completely against enacting any form of censor or attempt to silence opposition. But New Sinn Féin have left much of their core values behind. In Aontú we may not like a protest, we may not support a protest, but we will defend the rights of citizens to peacefully protest in our democracy. The alternative is too frightening to consider.”