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Priest bans Sinn Féin from church hall over abortion stance

by Heather Preston
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Kenneth Allen / St Patrick's Hall, Coalisland

A Catholic priest in Northern Ireland has cancelled a Sinn Féin meeting in a church hall over the party's stance on abortion.

It's been reported that Father Eugene O'Neill prevented the public event at St Patrick's Church, County Tyrone on Thursday evening after being contacted by prolife campaigners.

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill and local MP Francie Molloy were set to attend the meeting to discuss recent political developments.

Father O'Neill, who did not take the initial booking called the party's offices to "cancel immediately" once he had been alerted to their engagement, according to Irishnews.

In an email to campaigners he said: "In light of their recent behaviour regarding the abortion debate and due to their long-running policy on pro-life matters I would not entertain the use of church property for any such meeting.

"Further, as a charity the parish is not legally permitted to use church property for any political activity whatsoever," he added.

At a Belfast conference in 2018 Sinn Féin delegates voted to support abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, a move that prompted some members across Ireland to resign. 

A Sinn Féin spokesperson told attendees that the public meeting would be rescheduled due to a calendar clash in a Facebook post. 

It reads: "Sorry for the late notice but tonight's public meeting is postponed for a later date due to conflict in Michelle's schedule, new date will be shared soon."

Tyrone Pro-Life Network has welcomed Father O'Neill's decision. Spokesperson Catherine Sewell said the group is against any pro-abortion outfit conducting business on Catholic property.

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