County Hall says it cannot tackle anti-abortion protests outside hospitals and clinics

County Hall says it cannot tackle anti-abortion protests outside hospitals and clinics
Abortion protesters outside an Irish hospital. County Hall officials in Cork say proposed bylaws to ban such protests are beyond the remit of local authorities. Picture: Ciara Wilkinson

CORK County Council has claimed that it is unable to take action against anti-abortion protests outside hospitals and GP clinics.

Following a motion from Social Democrat councillor June Murphy, chief executive Tim Lucey said that the issue is beyond the remit of local authorities and will require national legislation.

The proposed bye-laws would have prohibited people from engaging In intimidating behaviour towards healthcare providers, interfering with people’s access to healthcare, recording or publishing private information or videos of patients without their consent, and distributing literature from unregulated organisations.

Proposing the motion, Ms Murphy said that the council should be "proactive" in the absence of national legislation.

"We need to protect and destigmatise access to legal healthcare and a safe working environment for staff and patients.

"Council bye-laws already regulate all kinds of things, for good or ill, and I'm hoping today that we can do something positive in helping women right across the country in enabling them to access healthcare in the most dignified and private manner," she said.

Responding, Mr Lucey said that the council does not have the legislative authority to take action on some of the proposals in Ms Murphy's motion and refused to engage with the council's solicitor on the matter.

He said that the government is looking at creating national legislation to deal with the issue.

Ms Murphy said that Louth County Council has amended some of its bye-laws to deal with the issue and asked for Cork County Council to investigate doing the same, but was rebuffed by again by the chief executive.

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