By Dubhaltach O Reachtnin
Eamon Martin, archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, has spoken out strongly about the encroaching state control of civil liberties on Ireland, highlighted by the decision of the UK Supreme Court to impose exclusion zones outside centres in Northern Ireland that provide or facilitate abortions.
This decision came following the introduction of a Bill in the Republic of Ireland which aims to do the same in the south of the island.
Archbishop Martin stated that these restrictions were “tantamount to enforcing a ban on pro-life activities, including prayer and respectful witness”. He said they were “a disproportionate response with potentially wide implications for freedom of religion and speech” and “will further silence the voice of the innocent unborn”.
When questioned about the Archbishop’s statement in the Irish Parliament, An Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin said he had not heard the statement but that “hospitals are no place for protests, just no place”.
Critics of this response have of course pointed out that this is blatantly not true. Demonstrations of all kinds, whether in relation to closure of A&E departments or over pay relations demonstrations, take place outside hospitals every day.
During the same debate, an opposition TD (MP) asked if the Taoiseach had discussed in talks with Church leaders “the need to stop these intimidatory misogynistic protests”, and the need to expedite the law in Ireland, repeating the accusation that pro-lie vigils and witness are the equivalent of harassment and intimidation.
Archbishop Martin highlights that in Northern Ireland, as in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, “harassment laws are already in place to prevent intimidation”.
Previously, the Garda Commissioner, when questioned, stated that existing laws were adequate to deal with any harassment or intimidation at hospitals. When questioned directly, hospitals have also stated that they have had no issues in this area, bringing into question the necessity for the law at all beyond preventing prayerful witness.
The growing sense of censoriousness in Ireland comes as the Government has put forward a hate-speech Bill that will provide for criminalisation of speech that is subjectively perceived as being hateful, devoid of definition of what defines hate or some of the protected characteristics.The rank hypocrisy of the Irish apostasy – Catholic Herald