Ireland aproves 'buffer zones' that limit Freedom of Assembly, similar to those in England and Wales
On the 29th of June, the Irish Government approved legislation to introduce 100-metre buffer zones around abortion clinics similar to those already in place in Northern Ireland and with the PSPO's and the Public Order bill in England and Wales. In the same way as in the UK, the legislation does not distinguish between harassment and peaceful activism such as silent prayer or mere physical presence inside the buffer zone.
The new legislation approved by the Irish Cabinet will make it illegal to protest or try to engage in a conversation with a woman who plans to get an abortion. A 2,500€ fine or six months in jail might be imposed on anyone who repeatedly breaks the order.
In the same way as in the UK, the legislation does not distinguish between harassment and peaceful methods of protest such as silent prayer or mere physical presence inside the buffer zone. The passage of this measure in Ireland is worrying as it represents a violation of the religious freedom of those who wish to pray or express their worry at what they consider immoral, in a peaceful and silent manner.
In the light of precedents that have seen people arrested for thought crimes justified by similar legislation, this law is a step backwards for freedom of religion in Ireland.
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