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Buffer zones December 7, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This is good news, isn’t it?

The Northern Ireland assembly can legislate to create buffer zones around abortion clinics to protect users and staff, the UK’s highest court has ruled.

The supreme court’s unanimous judgment means the assembly can proceed with the abortion services (safe access zones) (Northern Ireland) bill, which criminalises people who enter the specified areas and influence people attending clinics.

The argument against? 

The attorney general for Northern Ireland argued that clause 5(2) of the bill was a disproportionate interference with the freedom of conscience, speech and assembly of anti-abortion protesters and demonstrators, protected under articles 9, 10 and 11 respectively of the European convention on human rights (ECHR), and so outside the assembly’s legislative competence.

However, Wednesday’s written judgment by Lord Reed said the restrictions were in pursuit of a legitimate aim – promoting public health – and compatible with the ECHR rights of anti-abortion protesters.




1. Tomboktu - December 7, 2022

Does anybody know what the NI Attorney General’s role is here? Do they have a role like the President across the border of refering potentially problematic legislation for judicial scrutiny? Or was this referral a political decision from an AG opposed to substantive issue?


WorldbyStorm - December 7, 2022

I had wondered that Tomboktu, what was the dynamic which brought the AG into this?


Miguel62 - December 7, 2022

The AG is absolutely independent (once appointed, jointly, by the First and Deputy First Ministers) in the discharge of her functions. She acts on her own initiative.

Odd situation, I suppose, but the North is, eh, different. Prior to the GFA, the AG was a political appointment, always an Ulster Unionist in Stormont days, and a Tory or Labour politician under direct rule.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - December 7, 2022

Thanks Miguel, that’s very interesting.


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