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Group seeks to restrict free speech, right to protest with election pledges

Free speech activists are slamming a civil liberties group for calling for restrictions on the right to protest and assemble and also for legislation which would likely be used to curtail freedom of expression. 

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has called on candidates in the upcoming general election to commit to a list of demands.

First on the list is to ”establish safe access zones” at abortion centres to ensure women can access abortion, while the ICCL also calls for Hate Crimes legislation.

However, pro-life activists say exclusion zones would amount to an unprecedented denial of basic freedoms and also prevent women from learning about alternatives to abortion.

The ICCL also calls for reform of the Electoral Act to allow lobby groups to receive funds from abroad. The ICCL, Amnesty and others have been in receipt of millions of dollars from US billionaires such as George Soros and Chuck Feeney to agitate for social change in Ireland.

Barrister and free-speech advocate Tracey O’Mahony said “The Irish Council for Civil Liberties holds itself out as being a body which is ‘committed to an Ireland that is more just, more free and where human rights and civil liberties are enjoyed by everyone’ and states that it works ‘tirelessly to defend and strengthen constitutional rights protections’. Also, it states in its election manifesto 2020 that it wishes to ‘shape a society where everyone’s human rights and individual freedoms are respected’.”

“I find it difficult to comprehend how an organisation can state that the core of its work is a commitment to human rights and freedom for all, and then vigorously advocate for the introduction of protest free zones (which would breach article 40.6.1 (ii) of the Irish Constitution) and the introduction of hate crime “so all feel safer from hateful attacks” (which would breach article 40.6.1(i) of the Irish Constitution),” she said.
“I believe this organisation has systematically advocated for the erosion of fundamental human rights and freedoms in Ireland and it is not a body that I would look to for guidance or education on protecting human rights.

The civil liberties group today launched its election manifesto, which sets out “immediate goals in the larger project to shape a society where everybody’s human rights and individual freedoms are respected,” Ms O’Mahony said.

The eight calls from ICCL are for candidates to commit in the election to:

“Establish Safe Access Zones at medical facilities so that women and pregnant people can access abortion care in privacy, safety and with dignity.”
“Introduce Hate Crime legislation so that we all feel safer from hateful attacks.”
“Protect our privacy and data by halting the illegal Public Services Card project.”
“Establish a new Independent Office of the Police Ombudsman so that we can all have confidence in An Garda Síochána.”
“Implement inspections of all places of detention in order to prevent torture behind closed doors.”
“Establish an Ombudsman for Victims of Crime to ensure justice for victims of crime.”
“Outlaw image-based sexual abuse to prevent non-consensual creation and/or sharing of intimate images.”
“Reform the Electoral Act to allow civil society organisations to function without fear.”


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