Gar­daí called to demo at bridge


Enniscorthy Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - By PÁDRAIG BYRNE

EN­NIS­COR­THY Gar­daí were called to the scene of a Pro-Life demon­stra­tion at the foot of the Pa­triot Flag in Abbey Square on Thurs­day, hav­ing re­ceived a num­ber of com­plaints over the im­agery used. Pro­test­ers held aloft an ex­tremely gory im­age of a ‘dead 10-week fe­tus mo­ments af­ter abor­tion’ so that it could be seen by all traf­fic en­ter­ing into En­nis­cor­thy via the new bridge.

The shock­ing im­age up­set quite a few mem­bers of the pub­lic and they con­tacted En­nis­cor­thy Garda Sta­tion to complain. Gar­daí were quick to ar­rive at the scene and talked to the cam­paign­ers, how­ever, a garda spokesman said that there was very lit­tle they could do bar ask them to move on, as no laws were tech­ni­cally be­ing bro­ken.

This is the sec­ond time in re­cent weeks that a protest of this na­ture has taken place in the town and gar­daí have re­ceived nu­mer­ous com­plaints, par­tic­u­larly from the par­ents of young chil­dren who were ex­posed to these im­ages in broad day­light walk­ing down the street. This type of cam­paign­ing has drawn crit­i­cism both from ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ vot­ers, many of whom feel it’s go­ing a step too far.

WHILE the topic of the eighth amend­ment and the up­com­ing ref­er­en­dum is a highly emo­tive one, peo­ple from both sides of the di­vide were crit­i­cal of cam­paign­ers who ar­rived in En­nis­cor­thy last Thurs­day evening, car­ry­ing large ban­ner’s de­pict­ing graphic im­ages of an ‘aborted foe­tus’.

The small group gath­ered just in front of the Pa­triot’s Flag in Mar­ket Square and held the ban­ner aloft to­wards pass­ing traf­fic com­ing into the town over the new bridge.

The dis­tress­ing im­age cer­tainly caused con­tro­versy and par­ents walk­ing with their young chil­dren in the sun­shine could be vis­i­bly seen cov­er­ing their lit­tle ones’ eyes as they walked past.

En­nis­cor­thy Garda Sta­tion also re­ceived a num­ber of calls in re­la­tion to the ban­ner, with peo­ple in­sist­ing they do some­thing to stop the demon­stra­tion.

Sgt Colum Matthews at En­nis­cor­thy Garda Sta­tion, how­ever, says that they are in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion in re­la­tion to these mat­ters, as of­fi­cially, no laws are be­ing bro­ken. He said that this is the sec­ond time in re­cent weeks that this is­sue has arisen and the first time around, it ap­peared that the pos­ses­sors of the im­ages were not lo­cal.

‘It seems that these peo­ple were ex­pect­ing con­fronta­tion as a few of them were wear­ing body cams,’ he said.

‘We have been asked on a few oc­ca­sions what our pow­ers are to move these peo­ple on. We do have pow­ers un­der the Pub­lic Or­der Act to stop them dis­tribut­ing of­fen­sive im­agery, but they are not do­ing that they are just dis­play­ing it.

‘We had a lot of calls into the sta­tion the last time around, but on the ad­vice of the DPP (Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions) we can only re­ally ask them to move on. They would have to cause a breach of the peace in or­der for us to act.’

Gar­daí ar­rived in Abbey Square and talked to the cam­paign­ers for some time be­fore they even­tu­ally moved away from the scene, hav­ing been there for just over an hour.

Pic­tured are En­nis­cor­thy gar­dai speak­ing to mem­bers of a Pro Life group, fol­low­ing com­plaints about the graphic im­agery of the poster in­volved. The im­age has been blurred for pub­li­ca­tion.

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