TDs Critical Of Proposed Rules...


TDs Critical Of Proposed Rules Around Safe Access Zones

Tom Douglas
Tom Douglas

05:26 25 Oct 2023

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The Health Minister is defending plans for Safe Access Zones.

Speaking to an Oireachtas Committee, Stephen Donnelly said it's important to protect the right to protest along with the right to access services.

If passed, the Safe Access Zones Bill would see protests banned within 100 metres of healthcare settings in order to protect people accessing services like abortions.

However, members of the Oireachtas Health Committee claim the bill is unworkable in its current form.

The plans would see protestors first given a Garda warning.

If they continue to protest, it would then become an offence, for which they could be charged.

But currently, there's no official process for recording Garda warnings.

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall suggested there's nothing stopping people repeatedly protesting anywhere they like:

The Dublin North West TD asked "how do the Gardaí operate this law?"

Minister Stephen Donnelly explained the rationale behind the plans.

He said the warning was "to find a legal mechanism" between right to protest and right to access healthcare.

It's led to a calls for a centralised Garda database for people who've received warnings.

Minister Donnelly has committed to a review of the law within two years of it being passed and exploring the possibility of database then, if necessary.

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