SF moves to caravan clinic after church hall abortion row

Sinn Fein has held an advice clinic in a caravan after permission was withdrawn from using a Catholic church building in light of pro-life objections.

Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 2:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:38 pm
Sinn Fein MLA Colum Eastwood beside the caravan he used for a political clinic in Moy on Saturday 26 January.

The clinic was planned for a parochial hall in Moy on Saturday past, however the republican-linked pro-life group, East Tyrone Pro Life Network, voiced strong opposition.

Spokeswoman Catherine Sewell had said Sinn Fein is “terrified” of a voter backlash come the local government election this May, as it backed liberalisation of abortion laws in the Republic last year.

She believed that Sinn Fein was “trying to align itself with the Catholic Church in the public eye in order to somehow mitigate their abortion stance”.

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The caravan Sinn Fein MLA Colum Eastwood used for a clinic in Moy, Co Tyrone on Saturday after permission was withdrawn to use the parochial hall.

On Saturday Sinn Fein MLA Colum Gildernew tweeted a photograph of himself outside the caravan which had Sinn Fein posters attached. The party held the clinic in the caravan in Moy instead of the parochial hall.

Mr Gildernew wrote: “Great constituency clinic in the Moy this morning.

“Brilliant as always to engage with our constituents on a wide range of concerns about the Moy specifically and other issues. We will roll out the service across South Tyrone in the time ahead to make it more accessible for all.”

Parish priest Fr John Connolly said he was “surprised” at the attention the advice clinic had attracted.

“I didn’t want to offend or annoy any parishioners, so I thought it best to call it off,” he stated. “It wasn’t because of any other political party’s reaction. I withdrew permission to use the church hall, it was very amicable.

“I would probably not allow Sinn Fein to hold other events in the church hall. It depends what it is, I would have to look at each case as it came up,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.