Protestors take fight to O’Neill over Sinn Fein abortion stance

Members of Tyrone Pro-Life Network outside the Sinn Fein office in Coalisland
Members of Tyrone Pro-Life Network outside the Sinn Fein office in Coalisland

A pro-life group fighting moves to relax Northern Ireland’s abortion laws has vowed to challenge Sinn Fein at next year’s local government elections.

Members of a group calling itself Tyrone Pro-Life Network, which claims to have strong republican links, gathered outside Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill’s constituency office in Coalisland yesterday morning to stage a “silent protest” against the party’s stance on the abortion issue.

The protestors – an amalgam of local pro-life groups – said the protest marked the launch of a “relentless opposition” campaign to Sinn Fein abortion policy.

Earlier this month, delegates at the republican party’s ard fheis in Belfast voted to change the party’s position on abortion, comprehensively backing a leadership motion stating that women should have access to abortions within “a limited gestational period”.

A small number of anti-abortion activists stood outside the Mid Ulster MLA’s office holding placards carrying slogans such as ‘Every life matters. Abortion is not the answer’ and ‘The North Says No’.

The group, which is demanding a referendum on abortion in Northern Ireland, said Ms O’Neill is the “chief focus of the campaign”.

A statement issued by the Tyrone Pro-Life Network said there was “widespread disgust” among many republicans to the Sinn Fein leadership’s “liberal abortion policies”.

Stressing that “many of those involved in the campaign are from strong republican families in the county”, the group has warned that Sinn Fein “will soon feel the brunt of this at the polls”.