Precious Life protests should not be harassment
We are writing in response to a letter by Bernadette Smyth (Write Back, August 5). We respect that Precious Life has the right to protest outside Ascot House in Belfast. It is important that your readers know that these protests are not confined to 'prayer vigils'.
Staff and members of the public accessing the companies and services within Ascot House are often subjected to behaviour which is unacceptable. This includes being shouted at if they refuse to take leaflets and often being followed down the street.
Furthermore, Precious Life supporters not only assemble at the front of Ascot House, but stand at the back of the building outside the exit of the main gate. There are a total of five organisations within Ascot House who provide a range of services, including NICEM, the Belfast Migrant Centre, GEMS, Mount Charles and the FPA.
All female visitors of child-bearing age are targeted; many feel threatened and intimidated every time they use the building.
Members of staff and clients using the building have witnessed and experienced many incidents of harassment. Such incidents have been reported to the PSNI.
If it was just a matter of quietly standing and handing out leaflets, then no incidents would ever have been reported to the police. Prayer vigils do not involve harassment.
NICEM, FPA, BELFAST MIGRANT CENTRE, GEMS and MOUNT CHARLES
Ascot House, Belfast