A well-known media commentator and cafe owner has been accused of attacking two young women in Belfast city centre.
Businesswoman Barbara Whearty has been charged by the Public Prosecution Service with assaulting two pro-life campaigners in June this year.
Whearty (38) is the owner of the Cafe Cuan in Belfast city centre and she’s a regular commentator on current affairs issues on BBC NI’s Radio Ulster.
She is alleged to have unlawfully assaulted Maria Maynes and Lucy Kelly on June 1 and her case is listed for this Wednesday at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.
It is understood the two charges of unlawful assault are related to an incident which attracted massive attention on social media.
Pro-life campaigners had a stall near Cornmarket in the city centre which featured graphic images of aborted foetuses which many find offensive.
It was reported at the time that businesswoman Barbara Whearty confronted a group of the anti-abortion protesters, which included teenagers from the Youth For Life wing of Precious Life.
Mrs Whearty said on social media she had previously suffered a miscarriage and the images on display brought back the pain of that experience.
She commented on Twitter on June 3: “Oh and now my business is being trolled with 1 star reviews, all because I lost a child and didn’t want to be reminded of it every time I walk through town.”
Barbara Whearty’s husband, John Paul Whearty — the founder the Loyalists Against Democracy (LAD) social media pages and who works alongside her at Cafe Cuan — also tweeted about the incident at the time, saying the images had upset his wife.
He thanked those who supported Barbara, adding: “Our miscarriage was an emotional time and those emotions have resurfaced. Anyone who knows her, knows she’s fiery, that’s why I love her.”
The alleged victims of Barbara Whearty are both prominent local pro-life activists.
Maria Maynes is a 20-year-old advertising, communication and marketing student at the Ulster University at Jordanstown and she’s a volunteer with Precious Life and Youth For Life NI.
Belfast woman Lucy Kelly is a Queen’s University law graduate who has campaigned for Precious Life and is a co-ordinator Youth For Life. She has blogged on the issue and has appeared on Nolan Live passionately arguing the pro-life case.
On Stephen Nolan’s TV show she described abortion as barbaric.
The case against Barbara Whearty is up for a first-appearance PPS summons hearing and her address on the charge sheet is listed as Joy Street in Belfast city centre.