Kildare parents worried about graphic Abortion referendum posters near schools

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Kildare parents worried about graphic Abortion referendum posters near schools
13:09 Tuesday 17th of April 2018

The graphic nature of some posters relating to the Abortion Referendum have cause concern among parents.

Some posters may may be located on lamp-posts near schools and on streets in Kildare towns.

One of them shows an image of a foetus with the headline: "A Licence To Kill? Vote No to abortion on demand."

Another says: "In England, 1 in 5 babies are aborted. Don't bring this to Ireland. Vote No."

Advertising trucks with billboards related to the Abortion Referendum have also been spotted parked beside busy roads.

One parent who messaged us on Facebook, said: "I haven't made up my mind either way yet on what way I will vote yet.

"But I'm concerned because I don't want my children to see graphic photos on posters - from whatever side of the debate they're from.

"These type of posters are not age-appropriate for primary school children passing them by every day.

"And it's not fair on parents who are being asked awkward questions by their 8 year old or 9 year old who are too young to understand the issues involved I think."

These posters are already erected along streets in Dublin.

There is no watchdog which regulates election or referendum posters.

Laws exist only in relation to littering and issues like incitement to hatred or violence.

The Referendum on Friday, May 25 will ask the electorate if they want to repeal or retain the amendment, which recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn.

The government has already signalled that, if the 8th Amendment of the Constitution is repealed, legislation would be introduced to allow for abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

It emerged at the weekend that a pro-life speaker discussed the referendum during Mass at Carlow Cathedral.

One man said he stepped out of the Mass to prevent his 10-year-old son hearing the address.

Eoghan Murphy told Joe Duffy on Liveline on RTÉ that he, his wife and his son attended the mass for the anniversary mass of a member of his wife's family in Carlow Cathedral on Sunday.

At the start of the mass the priest said that during the ceremony a pro-life speaker, a doctor, would be speaking during the mass.

After the gospel the priest introduced the doctor so the man, his wife and his 10-year-old left the church and stood outside.

"My wife and I had had a conversation about having an age appropriate chat with our son. We wanted to be proactive but we didn't want the topic forced on our son in what we felt was a family event."

After 10 minutes the family returned to their seats in the church but a short time later, during the 'sign of peace' portion of the mass, the two women he was sitting beside "knelt down and ignored him" when he offered them the sign of peace.

"I was a bit taken aback," he said.

Mr Murphy felt that it could be handled more sensitively.

"Perhaps they [the women] assumed we had removed ourselves because of the church's stance. But we had removed ourselves because of the church's handling of it.

"They could have said that we will be having a pro-life speaker after mass is finished if anybody wishes to stay to hear it," he added.

Mr Murphy said that "a few people" left with them when the pro-life speaker was introduced and that a woman outside said "well done" to him.

Mr Murphy said repeatedly that it was not a political decision to leave and that it was purely to protect his son.

"It was put upon us. It shouldn't be foisted on children who know nothing about it."

Another caller, who said she attended 11am mass at the Cathedral, said that it was a Communion preparation mass with four primary schools in attendance she attended and again, the pro-life speaker spoke after the gospel.

Despite the speaker saying they were aware of the presence of children and that they would be careful with their language the woman said she "stood up and left with my two children. It was inappropriate".

A spokesman for the diocese of  Kildare and Leighlin said there "was no negative comments expressed by parishioners over the weekend concerning the issue of Church teaching on human life, or on any matter" following five masses at the Cathedral.

Speakers are often asked to address mass in the diocese on a number of issues including "respect for human life" and on "social justice issues" he said, adding "content is discussed in advance with a priority given to sensitivity around language and tone.

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