Thomas Pringle, an Independent TD for Donegal, is in the unusual position of having called for a ban on anti-abortion protests outside hospitals, only to then show up to a protest of his liking outside the National Maternity Hospital.

Of course it’s important to allow men be at the bedsides of their partners during maternity appointments and labour, and in other situations Deputy Pringle would be lauded for his stance on this, but the spectre of politicians who think themselves wise enough to crackdown on inconvenient protests whilst attending popular ones doesn’t sit well.

There was, until recently, a political class in Ireland who recognised the need to protect the rights of those they disagreed with in order to maintain order and justice in society, but the modern troop of representatives seem only too happy to foster a mob mentality towards undesirables.

The tactics being rolled out by most politicians and commentators in favour of banning anti-abortion protests are clear: demonise your opponent.

The people who stand outside hospitals because unborn human beings are being killed inside are supposedly a threat to society. The logic seems lacking however, given who is really threatened in an abortion.

In a setback to the many TDs who would ban the anti-abortion protests, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris insisted in 2019 that there was “no evidence” such protestors were threatening, insulting or abusive, pointing out that current legislation would be sufficient to deal with any misbehaviour (if it were to occur).

The legislation needed to ban these much-maligned protestors would probably prove unconstitutional in any case, given their enshrined right to assemble peaceably, but that hasn’t stopped Sinn Féin, Pringle and Simon Harris et al. from beating the repressive drum of intolerance towards those who disagree.

For all their rhetoric about building an inclusive, equal and progressive Ireland, the idea of criminalising those who would stand up for the rights of unborn babies outside the hospitals where they would otherwise be born is a staggering indictment of the irrationality clouding their political judgement.