Limerick anti-abortion campaigner Nora Bennis dies

Activist was involved in family values organisations and sought to overturn Lisbon Treaty vote

Nora Bennis, then leader of the Christian Democrats at the count for the Dublin area in 2002 abortion referendum. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Nora Bennis, then leader of the Christian Democrats at the count for the Dublin area in 2002 abortion referendum. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

The death has taken place of Nora Bennis, a prominent anti-abortion and family values activist from Limerick.

Ms Bennis founded Women Working at Home and the Irish Mothers Working at Home Association in the 1990s following the X case, when the State took an injunction against a 14-year-old pregnant teenager to prevent her having an abortion in the UK.

She became leader of the Solidarity Movement alliance of independent political candidates, in 1994 and stood as an independent in the European Parliament elections that year, obtaining 5 per cent of the first preferences.

The movement was also involved in the campaign against divorce ahead of the 1995 referendum.

Following that referendum, Ms Bennis founded the anti-abortion National Party, later named the Christian Democrats, and stood for it unsuccessfully in Limerick in general elections in 1997, 2002 and in the 1998 byelection.

The organisation later became the Christian Democrats.

Ahead of the 2002 abortion referendum, the organisation became involved with a new alliance of anti-abortion campaigners calling for a no vote in the referendum of that year in relation to the exclusion of a suicide ground for abortion.

In one comment that year, Ms Bennis described the morning-after pill as a “toxic chemical” and said the alliance was opposed to its use. It did not accept suicidality as a ground for abortion.

In 2009, she was among a number of unsuccessful challengers to the result of the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Ms Bennis was later involved with the Alliance of Parents against the State, which was set up in 2012 to oppose an amendment to the constitution on children’s rights.

A death notice published online said Ms Bennis died peacefully in University Hospital, Limerick on Monday.

She was predeceased by her husband Gerry. She is survived by her daughters Gráinne, Muirne and Aedín and son Rory.

Her funeral will take place on Thursday and she will be buried at St Mary’s New Cemetery in Patrickswell.