SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has welcomed the judgment from the Supreme Court that the safe access zones legislation is legal.
MLAs voted in favour of the legislation earlier this year, which will stop protests happening directly outside health facilities.
Ms McLaughlin said she was proud that the North was leading the way in terms of legislation around safe access zones and that nobody should be subjected to abuse while attending a healthcare facility.
Foyle MLA Ms McLaughlin said:
“I welcome today’s judgement from the Supreme Court which ensures that nobody will be subjected to unacceptable abuse while attending a healthcare facility. No patient should be subjected to jeering or upsetting images while attending a hospital or health centre and this legislation will allow us to take the necessary steps to protect patients and their families.
“In March the Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of this legislation. We have heard directly the testimonies of those who have been impacted by these kind of protests in the past, including mothers who have lost their babies, and the distress they have caused. I’d like to thank former MLA Claire Bailey for her efforts in bringing forward this legislation and It’s right that the Supreme Court has upheld the will of the Assembly.
“I am proud that the North has led the way when it comes to this kind of legislation, all too often we are left lagging behind on important issues while other parts of these islands push on ahead. The SDLP fully respects the right to free speech and protest, but there can be no denying people’s rights to feel safe and respected when accessing healthcare and we hope to see this important legislation implemented as soon as possible.”