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DUBLIN, Ireland, January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A new poll suggests that a majority of people in Ireland support the introduction of “exclusion zones” where pro-life witness is banned outside abortion centers.

According to a poll carried out by Amárach Research for RTÉ (the national public service media of Ireland) 77 percent of people surveyed support such a ban.

The news comes after Simon Harris, Ireland’s health minister, promised last week that he is “committed” to banning pro-life witness around abortion facilities.

In September 2019 Garda (Irish police) commissioner Drew Harris said that existing public order legislation was adequate to deal with protests outside abortion centers.

In a letter to the health minister, the police commissioner said that new laws would be “redundant” at this time and that there was no evidence that women seeking abortions in Ireland had been abused or insulted outside abortion facilities.

He wrote: “I confirm my satisfaction with existing public order legislation to adequately deal with any reasonable public order incident that may arise at such centres.”

“I re-confirm my views expressed at our recent meeting that protests to date at such centres have not contravened the law and are peaceful. To date no incident of criminality has been reported or observed as a result of a protest placed at or near the vicinity of a service centre.”

The letter continues: “[t]here is no evidence to suggest that there is threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour directed towards persons utilising such services.”

“Consequently, the introduction of any further legislation to ensure ‘safe access’ to termination pregnancy services, would be redundant at this time.”

Aoife Collins attends peaceful vigils outside family doctor clinics in Dublin where the abortion pill is given. Aoife told LifeSiteNews that the role of pro-life vigils is “to make prayerful reparation for the sins of abortion.” 

“People attending pro-life vigils are not interested in popularity ratings,” she said. “We understand that our presence reminds many of what they voted for in May 2018. It makes them uncomfortable. Our role however, is to make prayerful reparation for the sins of abortion and we pray for everyone involved including the abortionists, the unborn babies, and their mothers.” 

Aoife continued, “those who wish to crush our democratic right to pray in public should be concerned since bullying of pro-life people by Minister Simon Harris and others, may be extended to them by the Government in the future. Be careful what you wish for.”

Liam Gibson, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children’s Belfast-based political officer and a pro-life leader in Ireland for nearly 20 years, told LifeSiteNews that the results of the survey are “irrelevant.”  

“It doesn’t matter whether nearly 80, 90 or even a hundred percent of people want to ban pro-life demonstrations at abortion facilities, freedom of speech and freedom of expression are basic civil and political rights,” said Gibson. “In fact, the more unpopular the cause being espoused, the greater the need for legal safeguards for those who advocate that cause. Any legislation which targets peaceful demonstrators merely because politicians find their opinions objectionable is incompatible with the rule of law in a civilised society.”

He continued:

Whatever the government has planned will be challenged in court. Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is binding on the Republic of Ireland, guarantee freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. And Article 6 of the Irish Constitution protects the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and without arms. This right can only be lawfully restricted if demonstrations are deemed to be “calculated to cause a breach of the peace or to be a danger or nuisance to the general public.” It’s quite likely that legislation exclusively restricting pro-life vigils would be considered unconstitutional since they would be designed to discriminate against one section of the public who wish to express a political or religious conviction that killing unborn children is wrong.  

The fact that Irish politicians have launched this attack on freedom of speech just days after abolishing the country’s blasphemy laws, supposedly in [defense] of freedom of speech, highlights the shocking level of hypocrisy which now dominates Irish society.