'Women's issues are not a priority': Call for action on safe zones

'Women's issues are not a priority': Call for action on safe zones

Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns has made the call to ensure that people have access to medical care without fear of harassment and intimidation. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

CORK TD Holly Cairns is seeking an update on the promised legislation for introducing safe zones around hospitals and GP surgeries.

The Social Democrats TD for Cork South West has made the call to ensure that people have access to medical care without fear of harassment and intimidation.

Anti-abortion campaigners have set up pickets outside facilities that provide abortion services, which is distressing for patients.

Stephen Donnelly, the health minister, denied weekend reports that the Government had no plans to introduce safe access zones. Mr Donnelly said: “I am fully committed to the introduction of legislation on safe access zones around our healthcare facilities.”

Ms Cairns said the Government has to “enact” the will of the people. 

“A law on safe zones was promised after the landslide repeal vote. It is up to the Government to enact the will of the people.”

Ms Cairns said the law with regards to safe zones was due to be introduced under the previous government. “This law was due to be introduced under the previous government and is on the current legislative programme. Safe zones around hospitals and GP surgeries are about ensuring that people have access to medical care without harassment and intimidation. 

"Protest and shock tactics outside of medical settings are designed to deny women access to healthcare.

“The minister’s replies to my parliamentary questions on this legislation have downplayed its significance, as he used vague terms around legal issues requiring further consideration,” she added.

“It is another indication that women’s issues are not a priority for this government or the Department of Health. We need only look at the continuing restrictions in maternity hospitals as further evidence of this.”

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