Northern Ireland news

Anti-abortion group to hold Michael D Higgins protest at Co Tyrone school

Anti-abortion campaigner Catherine Sewell
Connla Young

AN anti-abortion group is planning to hold a ‘prayer protest' when President Michael D Higgins visits a Co Tyrone school this week.

The Tyrone Pro-Life Network said members will say the Rosary at the gates of St Patrick's Academy in Dungannon on Thursday when President Higgins attends an event believed to be linked to the opening of a new £27m school building.

Spokeswoman Catherine Sewell last night also claimed that campaigners will be present inside the school.

In January this year President Higgins formally signed a bill legalising abortion south of the border after last year's referendum to remove the eighth amendment of the constitution.

St Patrick's Academy was formed by an amalgamation of St Patrick's Boys' and Girls' Academies in 2003, with human rights campaigner Fr Denis Faul among former principals of the boys' school.

Ms Sewell last night described the planned visit of President Higgins as a "calculated insult to the memory of Fr Faul and the Catholic faith”.

"Higgins is the nominal head of a state that is actively trying to remove all traces of the Catholic Church ethos from schools and hospitals across the south of Ireland,” she said.

“It is totally inappropriate that he should be opening a Catholic school in the north."

A spokesman for President Higgins declined to comment yesterday, while the school also did not comment.

In January the Tyrone Anti-Abortion Network threatened to hold a protest outside a Co Tyrone parochial hall booked to host a Sinn Féin constituency clinic.

The event was later cancelled.

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