PROTESTORS gathered outside the National Maternity Hospital on Wednesday to demonstrate against abortion services.
A video was shared on social media form within the hospital showing a number of demonstrators lining the streets holding signs right outside the door of the building.
Mary Higgins tweeted: "Right here (national maternity hospital), right now 1/1/20; wonder why we need exclusion zones @LeoVaradkar @SimonHarrisTD - beneath the windows of a postnatal ward, in front if people leaving after a miscarriage, with small coffins, crosses and unsavoury images."
Right here (national maternity hospital), right now 1/1/20; wonder why we need exclusion zones @LeoVaradkar @SimonHarrisTD - beneath the windows of a postnatal ward, in front if people leaving after a miscarriage, with small coffins, crosses and unsavoury images. pic.twitter.com/DXBVWXw0GB
— Mary Higgins (@mairenihuigin) January 1, 2020
Health Minister Simon Harris responded to the video saying he was "appalled" by the footage before adding that he was committed to implementing exclusion zones around hospitals carrying out termination procedures.
Exclusion zones are intended to prevent protesters demonstrating within a certain distance of facilities providing abortion care.
"Appalled to see. I don’t wonder why we need it at all," Harris tweeted.
"Have been engaging with Attorney General, Gardai & service providers about how best to bring it in in a manner that is constitutional etc. Can assure you I am committed to it and will be meeting cross party on it this month.
"When we started this service, we had fewer than 170 GPs but this has doubled to over 340. All our maternity hospitals are providing termination of pregnancy care. Ten are providing the full range of services," he added.
"Throughout 2020, we want to expand the service further and I will work with Dr Aoife Mullally, the HSE and the HSE Board to ensure we continue to evolve this vital service in our health service."
The issue of protests has come to the fore ever since May 2018 following a referendum to remove the constitutional ban on abortion, and the subsequent introduction of legislation allowing abortion services to provided through GPs, family planning services, maternity units, and hospitals.
Wednesday marked a year to the day since termination services became available in Ireland under the Health Act 2018.