Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath has hit out at what he has described as “disgraceful laughing and jeering” seen in the Dáil last night moments before abortion exclusion zones legislation was voted through.
In footage which can be viewed below, some TDs, which Deputy McGrath said included left-wing and Sinn Féin deputies, seemed to erupt into laughter after ten pro-life TDs stood in the chamber to signal that they would be voting No to the Safe Access Zones Bill:
The legislation, passed last night by 117 votes to 10, will now proceed to the Seanad after passing the fifth and final stage in the Dáil. If signed off on in the Seanad, as is anticipated, the law will soon make it a criminal offence to pray or peacefully protest within 100 metres of abortion centres, hospitals, and GPs where abortion is offered.
As highlighted by Deputy McGrath, a staunch opponent of the Bill, last night, those who pray or witness outside of places where abortions are performed can be issued warnings with a criminal conviction resulting in a fine of up to €2,500 and-or up to six months in prison for third and subsequent offences, as per section 5(3), which is a prerequisite for committing an offence under the legislation.
Speaking to Gript today, Deputy McGrath slammed the conduct of those in the chamber last night, as he detailed how “laughing and smirking and jeering” had taken place before the Bill was voted through to minimal opposition.
He said that People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith had targeted the ten TDs who stood against the legislation. Deputy Smith clarified that she was standing up in protest, and not standing up to join with those voting against the legislation, which met with laughter and “jeering” from a number of Sinn Féin TDs and some others, according to Deputy McGrath.
In the footage from last night, Deputy McGrath can be heard retorting, “It’s not so funny” as he went on to call out the Deputies, who he described as “an utter disgrace.”
“The laughing and the smirking is so sad,” he said. “It’s evil, and it’s disgraceful that elected representatives would laugh and smirk at such an overwhelming vote for a Bill that is not necessary, and will have damaging repercussions.”
“How Sinn Féin can be so joyous about the passing of the legislation is beyond me. I told the deputies, ‘You are an utter disgrace. You are here laughing and jeering about abortion and a law which will target babies in Ireland, and at the same time, here you are acting as though you are so concerned about the children in Gaza. Those are crocodile tears.'”
“I told them they were shedding crocodile tears for Gaza while they were jeering about abortion,” Deputy McGrath told Gript.
“If the public saw how they behaved, people would be sickened by their attitude,” he added.
“The way they were all laughing, it was disgraceful. Here Sinn Féin are talking about the children of Gaza, yet they want more and more babies aborted in Ireland. They need to be called out on their hypocrisy, and I did that last night.”
“The laughing, and the glee, and the smirking, it’s evil as far as I am concerned. This Bill is complete overkill, and this legislation is not necessary,” Deputy McGrath added.
“There should be no jubilation about the passing of this legislation and the banning of the right to peaceful protest and prayer, especially when we are talking about the lives of thousands of unborn babies,” he said.
Deputy Bríd Smith’s office has been contacted for comment.