Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers has just published the Legislative Programme for the summer 2021 Oireachtas session.
The programme contains 43 bills for prioritisation by Government ministers and has been approved for publication following a meeting of the Cabinet.
According to Mr Chamber’s the list of Bills been published following consultation with all government departments, officials and the Attorney General.
Included in the 43 Bills listed for prioritisation is the ‘Safe Access to Termination of Pregnancy Services Bill.’
Despite an overwhelming lack of evidence that peaceful pro-life protests present any public order threats, the government say the aim of this Bill is “to ensure safe access to premises at which termination of pregnancy services may be provided.”
This latter point has been repeatedly made by the Garda Commissioner, who in late September 2019 explicitly stated that “there was no evidence to suggest that there is threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour directed towards persons utilising such (abortion) services.”
The Garda Commissioner has also confirmed to government his opinion that existing laws are more than adequate to deal with whatever public order issues may arise.
It should also be noted that the Clinical Lead for the implementation of abortion services within the HSE, Dr Aoife Mullaly, confirmed in a recent article in the International Reproductive Journal, Contraception, that GPs providing abortion services in Ireland are protected from ‘stigma’ because “they do not face regular protests.”
Nevertheless, preparatory work is underway to ensure that a Report on the Bill that will ban peaceful pro-life protest will be ready not later than the end of this summer.
Minister Chambers said the Legislative Programme contained ambitious, exciting and important bills from across a range of Government Departments “which will have a transformative and positive impact.”
Life Institute said in a statement that any attempts to outlaw peaceful protests would be unconstitutional. “It is revealing that the government want to criminalize peaceful – and often prayerful – protests, simply because these witnesses oppose government policy on abortion,” they said. “Most reasonable people would have no issue with anyone praying for a woman considering abortion, or offering that woman support to choose a better option. This is a highly cynical, politicised action by abortion supporters in the political parties who want to crimimalise legitimate witnesses opposing abortion.”