Anti abortion group to take action over banning of advert from radio

 

YOUTH Defence is to take legal action after being blocked from airing an anti abortion advertisement on RTE and local radio stations. The anti abortion group launched a £36,000 advertising campaign called Project Truth yesterday.

The chairwoman of the group, Ms Niamh Nic Mhathuna, said that in a "sinister" move, RTE and Government censors had sought to "stifle the voice of the voiceless".

"Mr Michael O'Keeffe, chief executive of the IRTC, has ordered so called independent radio stations to refuse to broadcast the advertisements, this in spite of the fact that several of them had already accepted the ads," she said.

The group described the advertisements as "apolitical", saying they simply stated the physical reality of unborn life at eight weeks and the fact that abortion kills an unborn child. A billboard ad shows a baby with the text underneath: "Kill her now and it's murder. Kill her before birth and it's abortion".

"RTE has also refused the advertisements on the grounds that they are in contravention of the Broadcasting Act as having a political or religious direction. Examination of the 30 second ads would show this interpretation to be entirely false," said Ms Nic Mhathuna.

The group is to seek a judicial review to overturn the decision not to broadcast the ads. Dr Sean O'Domhnaill, the Youth Defence public relations officer, said the Government was "calling in the favours from friends they appointed to the IRTC".

"Surely it is the death knell of democracy when a government appointed commission can censor those opposed to government policy. The right of the Irish people to freedom of speech and expression and real information about abortion is effectively controlled in the most despotic fashion by the puppets of the so called Free State," he said.

Ms Nic Mathuna said the aim of the campaign was to make people realise what abortion was. "For too long it has been surrounded by euphemisms. The fact is that abortion is about murder. We hope it will bring down the number of women in Ireland and all over the world who are having abortions."

She said the group had been fund raising for this campaign for the past 14 months with money collected in Ireland, the US, England and France. It was coincidental that the campaign was launched at a time of a number of controversies in Britain.

Dr O'Domhnaill said Youth Defence supported the decision by the woman pregnant with octuplets to try and go to full term with them. However, he said, in vitro fertilisation created its own ethical problems to which society and the medical profession were not prepared to respond.

A spokesman for the IRTC confirmed that Section 10.3 of the Broadcasting Act prohibits the broadcasting of advertisements which are directed towards any political or religious end or in connection with an industrial dispute.

A spokeswoman for RTE said senior executives could not be reached for comment.