McEntee slams SF for not listening to Gardai – but ignores them herself

Justice Minister, Helen McEntee, was taking none of what she saw as Sinn Féin’s disregard for an Garda Síochana in the Dáil yesterday.

Indeed, while railing against the main Opposition party for speaking “out of both sides of its mouth”, she also castigated the followers or Mary-Lou for ignoring the “very clear security advice from An Garda Síochána and the Garda Commissioner” in regard to the Special Criminal Court.

This was ominous, McEntee warned. “Sinn Féin ignores these views and prefers to help its own. What other advice from the Garda Commissioner would it ignore if it were in office? What other security and intelligence briefings would it disregard? The truth is it cannot be trusted to protect our people and our State.”

It was strong stuff. Fine Gael’s view was clear: it is the duty of public representatives to listen carefully to the Gardai, and heed their advice when voting on legislation. Anyone who chose to ignore Garda advice was ‘preferring to help their own pals’.

However, as commentator David Mullins was quick to point out, McEntee’s government is well able to ignore the advice of the Garda Commissioner when it suits them – when they want to please abortion activists by bringing in censorship zones around abortion centres, for example.

 

As everyone in Dáíl Éireann actually knows, the push to criminalise people involved in peaceful prayer or protest at abortion centres is motivated by malice and vindictiveness, not a need to protect anyone.

All of the various claims about abuse, harassment and intimidation have been shown to be entirely false by the investigative work of Gary Kavanagh of this parish. The hospitals themselves confirmed there were no complaints from women or staff. The allegations made in the Dáil and Seanad were shown to be a lie.

But even before all that, the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris told McEntee’s colleague Simon Harris that there was “no evidence” that women seeking abortions were being abused or threatened by protesters.

“I confirm my satisfaction with existing public order legislation to adequately deal with any reasonable public order incident that may arise at such centres,” the Garda Commissioner’s letter to the then Health Minister stated.

“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.”

“There 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.”

The Commissioner could not have been more clear. So why is his advice – that exclusion zones criminalising prayerful people were not necessary – being ignored by McEntee and her government.

The Irish Examiner, which could be renamed the Abortion Campaign Daily, gleefully reported that current Health Minister Stephen Donnelly – equally hapless to his predecessor – is to being forward a bill to establish “safe access zones”. Although the Examiner admits the pro-life presence is “silent” they want it banned anyway, a dose of spite evident in every word of its ridiculous editorial.

They use some junk research from Maynooth which is about as useful or reliable as a Facebook post to justify this undemocratic and absurd call to forbid pro-lifers from even offering support to women to continue to carry their child.

But Helen McEntee can’t have it both ways. Either ignoring the Garda Commissioner is a thoroughly sinister and ominous thing to do, or it is not. Either she believes Commissioner Harris on pro-life prayer vigils and the lack of evidence for banning same, or she does not.

Or is her government just like the bogeymen they claim Sinn Féin to be: ignoring the advice and views of senior Gardai and preferring to help its own?

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