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Ahead of a motion tonight before Newry, Mourne and Down Council, a local Newry group has asked for a 'safe zone' to be maintained around Daisy Hill Hospital.

Supporting Women Newry have held counter protests during recent  Pro-Life protests outside Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry and previously at the John Mitchel Clinic.

The Motion due to be debated tonight is being brought by Slieve Croob Councillor, Cllr Róisín Howell and is titled 'Accessing Healthcare Services'. The Motion states “This Council believes that any member of the public accessing healthcare services is entitled to do so free of abuse, fear and intimidation and will write to both the Health Minister and the Justice Minister asking them to take steps to ensure this.”

Supporting Women Newry host a counter protest at the entrance to Daisy Hill Hospital. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Supporting Women Newry host a counter protest at the entrance to Daisy Hill Hospital. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

A Spokesperson for Supporting Women Newry speaking about Pro-Life protestors said "Their protests include graphic, pictorial references to terminations and highly inflammatory language about murder taking place on Trust property.  These protests are not being targeted at the policy makers but at the very people, families, women and children, who daily use the hospital. This is having a detrimental impact on the mental health of staff and service users alike.

"In response to the abuse and intimidation, in March 2021, a group of women from Newry said enough is enough and formed Supporting Women Newry (SWN).  This group was initiated to counter the harassment and inform the people of Newry and surrounding areas that they are supported. SWN have politely asked these pro-life groups to take their demonstrations to those who have the power to change policy and have not, and will not, engage in a pro-life pro-choice debate. This is not about the ethics of terminations but about keeping people safe; safe from intimidation and abuse."

Recently the group have dressed as cartoon characters at the entrance to the hospital at the same time as the anti abortion protestors saying "they want staff and patients alike, but especially children, to remember Elmo, Elsa and Minnie Mouse rather than the graphic misrepresentations of the pro-life groups."

The Spokesperson concluded "After more than a year of battling a deadly pandemic, the people of Newry and surrounding areas demand safety and respect for staff and patients and urge those in authority to insist that the entrances to all healthcare facilities are protected from this form of abusive behaviour. SWN will not stop until a safe zone around Daisy Hill is maintained."

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