Analysis

A sectio of the large group of abortion protesters in Ballinalee(photo Declan Gilmore)
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he is “getting used to” encountering anti-abortion demonstrations at public engagements after around 200 protestors confronted the Fine Gael leader at a commemoration ceremony in Ballinalee on Sunday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he is “getting used to” encountering anti-abortion demonstrations at public engagements after around 200 protestors confronted the Fine Gael leader at a commemoration ceremony in Ballinalee on Sunday.

Mr Kenny was in the heavily thronged north Longford village to formally unveil a statue in honour of War of Independence hero and two-time presidential candidate General Sean MacEoin.

Moments after his arrival however, Mr Kenny was greeted by several protestors waving plackards shouting “keep your promise”.

Those same chants continued throughout the duration of Mr Kenny’s 10-minute address despite his own attempts for silence to be observed when reading out the 49 members belonging to the North Longford Flying Column.

“We have a right of legitimate protest in our country,” he told demonstrators. “It is a right that is available to everybody and we respect that that should be a peaceful right at all times.”

“But I would like to say to those people across the road, it is my privilege to read out the 49 names of those of the Flying Column of Longford and I would respectfully request that they would maintain silence while these names are being read.”

Even with that appeal, cries of “keep your promise” could still be heard, leading some members of the public to voice their own displeasure at demonstrators.

Speaking afterwards amid a swarm of army officers and stewards, Mr Kenny said the hostility shown by some pro-life supporters was becoming part and parcel of his daily routine.

“I am used to this (protests) now. It doesn’t affect me one way or another,” he said, insisting he had “a job to do” as Taoiseach.

It was a message that was greeted with cheers and resounding applause as he met locals and paused for a series of photographs with families.

Mr Kenny also had warm words for the members of North Longford’s Flying Column and to its “inspirational and motivational” leader, General Sean MacEoin.