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Alliance Party hits out at anti-abortion group over 'poster campaign of lies'

By Claire McNeilly

A pro-life campaigner has defended a decision to erect hundreds of controversial posters across Northern Ireland in the run-up to the election.

Bernie Smyth was speaking after the Alliance Party accused Precious Life of conducting a "campaign of harassment" by placing the signs close to polling stations.

Assembly candidate Stewart Dickson hit out after a number of placards bearing the slogan 'A vote for Alliance is a vote for abortion' appeared in his East Antrim constituency.

But Mrs Smyth said her organisation "has every right to put up posters that will remind voters what the different parties in Northern Ireland stand for".

"The posters erected by Precious Life contain lies," said Mr Dickson.

"They are well aware abortion is a conscience issue for our party. Yet we have seen a relentless campaign against us and some candidates personally.

"For an organisation to call themselves pro-life, they appear to have little regard for the lives of Alliance candidates and our members of staff who they relentlessly harass and try to intimidate.

"A campaign which is deliberately spreading misinformation is damaging their own pro-life movement in Northern Ireland."

Mr Dickson added: "We will not be intimidated or deterred by harassment from Precious Life. Abortion is a conscience issue for our party and the lies spread by Precious Life will not change our party policy or any member's individual views."

Mrs Smyth categorically denied the "harassment" claims, and said that it was time for Mr Dickson to reflect on his own position.

"It's about reminding the public that if they vote for Alliance then they are backing a party who want to make it legal to abort children with life-limiting conditions up until birth," she said.

"This is an important, extensive, province-wide, pro-life campaign aimed at informing voters. We will be putting up hundreds of posters."

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