Northern Ireland news

Anti-abortion campaigners protest outside Sinn Féin offices over party's stance on issue

A protest was held by a pro-life group outside the offices of Sinn Féin northern leader and Mid-Ulster MLA Michelle O'Neill yesterday
Seanín Graham

ANTI-ABORTION campaigners in Co Tyrone staged a protest outside the constituency offices of the Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O'Neill yesterday.

Organisers say the event marks the first in a drive of "relentless opposition" to the party's liberalised policy on terminations.

Around a dozen people from the Tyrone Pro-Life network held placards emblazoned with 'the North says No' outside Ms O'Neill's Coalisland base for the Mid-Ulster area.

At the Sinn Féin ard fheis earlier this month, the majority of party members backed proposals to support planned legislation in the Republic that will enable unlimited access to abortion for up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

The landmark legal change follows the historic Referendum in the south to repeal the constitution's Eighth Amendment.

Prominent pro-life activist Catherine Sewell was among those who took part in the Coalisland protest.

A speech was also delivered by Doris Vincent, a relative of former IRA man Patrick Vincent who was shot dead by the SAS in Clonoe, Co Tyrone in 1992.

Ms Vincent accused the party of a "betrayal of republican ideals and those who gave their lives for these ideals during the troubles".

When asked to respond to the concerns raised by the protestors, a Sinn Féin spokesman said the party "respected the the right of people to express their views in a respectful way".

He added: "The issue of abortion is a very sensitive and emotive one...It is also an issue that demands compassion and it is obvious that current legislation north and south is failing women.

"The result in the referendum demonstrated overwhelming public support for positive change and a society which is more compassionate and caring and which, at its core, trusts women.

"We support legislative change in the north and the provision of appropriate, modern and compassionate healthcare services for women across the island."

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