Further protests taking place

Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 00:00

World reaction:The day after New York joined the list of cities worldwide holding candlelight vigils in Savita Halappanavar’s memory, a second event took place on Park Avenue in front of the Irish Consulate in midtown Manhattan last night.

“The Barnard College vigil was a moving tribute, and our speakers tonight from pro-choice groups and Amnesty International attest to the growing international outrage at Ireland’s failure to protect the lives of pregnant women,” one of the two organisers of last night’s consulate rally told The Irish Times.

“This matters,” said novelist Belinda McKeon, the second organiser of last night’s event.

Monday’s Barnard College vigil “was a small gathering”, she added, “but it was a real gathering, and everyone listened to the call: legislate now”.

Most of those in attendance at the Barnard College vigil were young women, some with no connection to Ireland, who said they were “shocked” upon learning of Ms Halappanavar’s death.

“I’m here from a female solidarity point of view,” said Barnard student Alice, who declined to give her last name. “Ideology or religion shouldn’t have a bearing on healthcare, anywhere.”

MEPs are to hold a demonstration at the European Parliament today to mark an international day of protest at the death of Ms Halappanavar.

Senior Green MEPs also plan to raise the issue at a meeting with Minister of State Lucinda Creighton today, while Labour MEPs discussed it at their Socialist group meeting last night.

The demonstration is being organised by Socialist MEP Paul Murphy and is expected to include other MEPs who sent a letter to the Taoiseach earlier this week expressing concern at Ms Halappanavar’s death.

Labour MEP Emer Costello last night briefed her Socialist group colleagues on the issue after several of them had raised questions about it ahead of the meeting. She said she would explain Ireland’s abortion laws to them and state that the Labour Party was committed to dealing with the issue.

Her colleague, Nessa Childers MEP, said introducing legislation to formalise the X-case ruling could cause problems within the Coalition but that it was a “red-line issue for Labour”. “We need primary legislation on it. We have got to sit up and deal with it,” she added.

Neither Fine Gael’s four MEPs nor Fianna Fáil’s three MEPs plan to raise the issue at meetings of their groups, the European People’s Party and the Liberal group.