Pro-life activists have said that they are gravely concerned about implications for a free and fair debate ahead of the expected abortion referendum after Gardai seized pro-life materials in Kilkenny City last Saturday. The Save the 8th pro-life roadshow was visiting the city on the last day of its extended tour, which had already been to 17 towns and cities throughout Ireland without incidence. However, just 10 minutes into the information event, Garda detectives arrived and threatened arrest if photographs of babies who had been aborted were not removed from display.
“We had just set up our Life Boards, which are 8-sided wooden boards, and are used to display pro-life information, such as the development of the preborn baby, medical facts, support helplines for women with crisis pregnancy and some A4 photographs showing the reality of abortion. These displays are part of our educational outreach ahead of the referendum on the 8th, “ said Clare Molloy of Youth Defence. “The Gardai demanded that the photographs be covered up despite our letters from Gardai explaining that the DPP had previously found the display to be legal. They then returned, and to everyone’s shock, seized both wooden boards, and carried them to a nearby car and drove away,” Ms Molloy explained.
“It was a very peaceful street event which was attracting a lot of support since the referendum is in the news so much these days, and everyone is very concerned in regard to what happened,” the pro-life volunteer said. “This has very serious implications for a free and fair debate ahead of the referendum on abortion expected in Spring,” she said. “Pro-abortion protestors were also in Kilkenny but their materials were not interfered with. We had a lot of support from people in Kilkenny that day, with hundreds signing our pro-life petition and more signing up to the Save the 8th campaign. ” Youth Defence are pursuing the matter with Kilkenny Gardai and expected their pro-life boards to be returned. “If that is not the case then we are looking at a serious infringement of constitutional rights ahead of a referendum and that would be a matter of major public concern, “ said Ms Molloy.
Pro-life activists are also pursuing the matter with the Garda Ombudsman. They refer to three letters previously received from Gardai referring to the DPP’s decision that found showing photos of abortion reality to be lawful, and apologising for illegally removing boards previously. (See letters below) . Gardai in Kilkenny said they were inundated with complaints against the Garda seizure of the pro-life boards, while the street event, which continued for four hours, received huge support from a sympathetic public. Youth Defence said their planned Save the 8th activities would continue for the rest of the summer including a national door-to-door canvass and street outreaches. A major rally for life attracted up to 80,000 people on July 1st and our tour reported a significant uptake in engagements with members of the public on the Save the 8th roadshow.
Here are the letters from Gardai which dealt with past attempts to censor pro-life information
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