Whatever your view is on abortion or religion, one thing should not be controversial: that people have an absolute right to pray whenever and wherever they like.
Article 44 of the Irish constitution guarantees citizens the right to freely practice their religion, and believe it or not, part of living in a “tolerant” society must involve tolerating viewpoints that you don’t agree with. Shocker, I know.
Well, apparently Sinn Féin missed the memo on this, as they joined the chorus of parties calling for prayer outside abortion clinics to be banned under law.
Replying to Senator Ronan Mullen, Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan did not hesitate to claim that grannies praying quietly to themselves outside an abortion clinic was “intimidating” to people.
“Senator Mullen can refer to those involved as decent people, mainly older people, or say they are reflecting in quiet prayer. He can say all of that. It does not matter what they are doing. The reality is that the feeling of the person they are doing it to is one of intimidation.”
This is very telling from Lynn Boylan of Sinn Féin.
She believes that it doesn't matter what anti-abortion protestors are doing, even if it is only praying, and that their right to protest should be suppressed purely because of how other people feel. pic.twitter.com/f67ZtL3UWU
— JRD (@JRD0000) February 10, 2022
Now, in fairness to Lynn here, I think of all Irish political parties Sinn Féin would know a thing or two about intimidation.
Regardless, as Gript established previously, not one maternity hospital in Ireland that we contacted reported a formal complaint from any member of staff or patient regarding such demonstrations. So this notion that pro-lifers are running around intimidating women is a completely unfounded article of blind faith promoted by politicians and activists.
Moreover, think of the precedent that’s being set here: apparently, according to Lynn Boylan, legitimate demonstrations, prayer events and protests should be banned, even if they’re doing nothing wrong, purely because someone else says they feel uncomfortable.
By this metric, can someone say “Sinn Féin events make me uncomfortable” and get their party Ard Fheis banned? Or a pride parade, or Black Lives Matter marches? Or does this absurd standard only apply to religious events?
Bear in mind, by the way, that this claim is being made by the same Sinn Féin which in 2020 saw one young woman resign from her role in the organisation after a party official called to her house. The party rep reportedly told the young member to delete social media posts criticising a party TD. Clearly, the girl in question felt uncomfortable enough if she resigned.
But this is the party which is appalled and horrified at 80-year-old Joesephine Bloggs quietly praying a novena, because they say it might be “intimidating” to women? It’s a bit rich, is it not?
Moreover, Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan said that not only was this intimidating to women, but it was also intimidating to “pregnant people.” In other words implying that men can get pregnant.
Speaking in the Seanad this week, Gavan said:
“I want to be clear that we need this legislation without further delay, because women and pregnant people are entitled to access essential healthcare, including access to termination of pregnancy services, in privacy and dignity, without being subject to intimidation, harassment and the subtle but deliberate chilling effect that anti-choice protestors bring to hospitals, family planning and GP settings across the State.”
Peak Sinn Féin in 2022: we need to protect the "pregnant people" from Catholics praying.
Paul Gavan gives Sinn Féin's full and enthusiastic support for the suppression of anti-abortion activists' right to protest. pic.twitter.com/JodXRgss3F
— JRD (@JRD0000) February 10, 2022
If your party isn’t even aware of which human gender is able to get pregnant, you might not be too authoritative when it comes to women’s issues or basic reality in general. It sort of undermines one’s credibility a smidge.
Ultimately, when you get right down to it, Sinn Féin’s issue appears to be with the right of Catholics and other Christian denominations to express their beliefs in general.
For example, as reported in a previous Gript video, Sinn Féin decided to demonstrate outside a Catholic Church last year when it decided not to fly a gay pride flag on its grounds.
This outrageous carry on was the first time a political group in Ireland had picketed a Catholic place of worship in decades. The last people who did that were Loyalists in the 1990s.
Gerry Adams even said recently that not only is he not religious (which is fine and his right of course), but that “religious institutions as we understand them have had their day and run their course.” I think that would very much come as a surprise to his more religious voters.
Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield photographed himself posing in lewd skimpy underwear wearing a Pope Francis t-shirt, making a mockery of a Catholic pontiff.
#fintanwarfield poses wearing a t-shirt with Pope John Paul II on it. How do Catholic supporters of #SinnFein feel about this? Is this a man that should have any say in the education of children in Ireland? pic.twitter.com/wa4iFjI1YU
— JRD (@JRD0000) July 29, 2020
In other words, for a group that tries to paint themselves as a great defender of Catholics, this party appears to have a thinly veiled disdain for the fundamental beliefs of religious people, and their desires to express those beliefs.
If Sinn Féin wants to go the way of every other militant secular party in this country, and shun any kind of traditional religious beliefs, that’s fine. But they should drop the “grannies praying is intimidation” act and just admit they have an axe to grind with Christianity. A bit of honesty rather than constant virtue signalling would go a long way.