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Highly charged atmosphere at abortion hearings with anti-abortion activists heckling witnesses

Eoin Burke-Kennedy Fri, May 17
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  • This event has now ended
  • 09:15
    Anti-abortion protesters target Minister Shatter's home
    Anti-abortion protesters target Minister Shatter's home
  • 09:15
    With fresh hearings on the Government's planned abortion legislation starting today, we're hearing that pro-life campaigners targeted Minister Alan Shatter's south Dublin home this morning. About a dozen anti-abortion protesters gathered outside his house early this morning before he left for a conference. See pic below
  • 09:27
    Just by way of formalities, I'm your host, Eoin Burke-Kennedy. Can I apologise in advance for flitting between an abortion hearing and a glitzy film festival in the south of France but it seems unavoidable today.
  • 09:43
    US media are reporting that the Boston marathon bombing suspect wrote a message in a boat where he hid, describing victims of the attack as "collateral damage". In the scribbled note, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also reportedly wrote that his brother was a martyr, adding: "When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims."
  • 09:43
    James Ridiculous that protesters feel that it's acceptable to turn up at someone's private family home to protest against an issue which relates solely to their job.
  • 09:46
  • 10:17
    "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." There! I swore I'd fit that line in somewhere today. Doubtless, many Gatsby fans have made a secret pact with themselves to hate director's Baz Luhrmann's new film. The movie goes on general release today. Donald Clarke gives the film a meagre two stars in today's Ticket.
  • 10:26
  • 10:40
    Here's a nice Friday yarn. A US man, whose family were facing eviction, has struck it rich after finding a misplaced lottery ticket in a cookie jar worth $4.85 million (€3.76 million). Ricardo Cerezo (44) purchased the winning Illinois state lottery ticket at a petrol station in Geneva in February and placed it along with several other tickets in a jar which had been bought for him by his recently deceased 14-year-old daughter. Read more
  • 10:41
    Mr Cerezo was presented on Wednesday with a cheque for $4,850,000 at the 7-Eleven where he originally purchased the ticket.
    Mr Cerezo was presented on Wednesday with a cheque for $4,850,000 at the 7-Eleven where he originally purchased the ticket.
  • 10:50
  • 10:51
    Ukip's Nigel Farage jeered by protesters in Edinburgh. Check out video below.
  • 11:15
    "I have long believed issues affecting men would be permitted media time and space only when women began to adopt them. And so it has come to pass." - John Waters. Read More
  • 11:18
    The only purpose of legislation on abortion being introduced in the Dail and Seanad is to clarify what is lawfully available, Reilly tells abortion hearing, adding the State would uphold the right to life of the unborn as far as practicable. Read more
  • 11:22
  • 11:50
    As you'd expect, the abortion hearing is generating more heat than light. However, chairman Jerry Buttimer has been forceful in dealing with a barage of interruptions and repeated questions. Independent TD Mattie McGrath earlier labelled the meeting a farce when Minister Reilly didn't stay around to answer questions.  Dr Rhona Mahony from the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street and Dr Sam Coulter Smyth of the Rotunda Hospital will give their opinions later this afternoon.
  • 11:58
  • 12:26
    Ukip leader Nigel Farage is certainly whipping up a storm in Scotland. He has denounced protesters who forced him to flee a press marking in Edinburgh as "fascist scum" who were filled with "total and utter hatred" of the English.  
  • 12:46
    Back to Cannes. This time for a heist. The BBC is reporting that $1 million worth of jewels have been stolen from a hotel room in the French Riviera town. The jewels were apparently to be loaned to celebrities attending red carpet premieres at the festival. They were reportedly stolen from a safe in the room of an employee of exclusive Swiss jewellers Chopard.
  • 12:48
  • 13:26
  • 14:29
    Poor ole Mick Wallace! The shaggy TD from Wexford appears to have been skewered by Shatter's revelation that he escaped penalty points when a garda let him off with a warning about using his mobile phone while driving last year.

    Three of the four Independent TDs [Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Luke “Ming” Flanagan] who first raised the issue of traffic offences being mysteriously quashed have found themselves, in one way or the other, dealing with controversy. The fourth, Joan Collins, better watch out.
  • 14:32
  • 14:37
  • 14:58
    New York Times video: US presidential politics and the IRS
  • 15:03
    According to Reuters, the website and Twitter feed of British newspaper the Financial Times were hacked today, apparently by the "Syrian Electronic Army", a group of online activists who say they support Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

    The group posted links on the newspaper's Twitter feed to a YouTube video, uploaded on Wednesday, which purports to show members of the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front Syrian rebel group executing blindfolded and kneeling members of the Syrian army. The video could not be independently verified.
  • 15:27
    Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahoney, tells abortion hearing, "we must vindicate the life of the foetus where practicable", adding the obligation to save the life of the unborn child has underpinned her practice for 17 years. However, she said women need to be treated and need to be believed.

    Earlier former master of the National Maternity Hospital Peter Boylan said the current situation in Ireland in which doctors have to operate to deal with cases where the life of a woman is under threat in pregnancy is wholly unsatisfactory and unreasonable. He said doctors were aware of the Supreme Court judgment in respect of the X case but in the absence of legislation and regulation they were left to attempt to interpret that judgment on an ad hoc basis when it comes to termination of pregnancy in order to save the life of the mother.
  • 15:49
    In one of the most bizarre interventions of the day at the abortion hearing, Independent TD Mattie McGrath brought up the fact that the Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahoney, and her predecessor Dr Peter Boylan were related by marriage, which McGrath maintained, might result in a "group think" regarding their statements on the issue before the committee. Despite several requests by chairman Jerry Buttimer to withdraw the remark, the Tipperary TD refused.
  • 15:53
  • 15:59
    Has Shatter scored something of an own goal with his Wallace penalty points revelation? Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins today raised concerns about the Minister's comments. During a television programme last night, Shatter said a garda let the Wexford TD off with a warning about using his mobile phone while driving last year.

    However, Collins said that Shatter was “apparently relying on private information provided to him by the gardaí”. The FF man said “privileged information” should be treated with respect and claimed the incident raised questions about the Minister’s judgement.
  • 16:03
  • 16:27
    The ongoing political controversy over the level of tax being paid by Google in its major European markets could have serious implications for its international structures, a key part of which is in Dublin, where it employs more than 3,000 people, according to Colm Keena. Read more.

  • 16:29
    Ukip leader Nigel Farage being escorted by police as protestors heckle him
    Ukip leader Nigel Farage being escorted by police as protestors heckle him
  • 17:04
    The final of the 58th annual Eurovision song contest takes place in Malmo tomorrow night, featuring Ireland's Ryan Dolan. Ukraine's entry 'Gravity' features singer Zlata Ognevich being carried on by a giant. Yes, I know but it's the Eurovision. Anyway, the giant in question is actually America's tallest man.

    Ukrainian-born Igor Vovkovinskiy, who now lives in the US, is seven feet eight inches (2 metres 35 centimetres) tall. I've posted a pic above. Had terrible trouble cropping him into a usable pic. Una Mulally will be doing a live blog from this site tomorrow night.

    The Guardian has a nice piece on some of the songs to look out for.
  • 17:21
  • 18:05
    Just to wrap up, the main news line coming out from today's marathon abortion hearing centres on the differing views offered on the legislation's suicide provisions.

    Dr Rhona Mahony, of the National Maternity Hospital, said that one could be forgiven for thinking that the Bill was about the risk of suicide in pregnancy. It is not, she added. It is about saving women’s lives, regardless of whether that risk to life is physical or mental.

    Dr Sam Coulter Smith, of the Rotunda Hospital, said he was sure that the legislation was designed to create clarity and reassurance for both health professionals and patients alike. The fact that there was no gestational limit relating to suicide, however, was a major ethical issue for obstetricians.
  • 18:09
    Ronan O’Gara’s coaching career could, ironically, begin alongside his outhalf rival Jonny Sexton. The RMCSport website in France is reporting that O’Gara, who is fluent in French, met with Racing Metro club president Jacky Lorenzetti in London this afternoon, where he agreed a two-year deal as assistant coach at the club.
  • 18:11
  • 18:16
    That's all from me folks. Have a good weekend