Police investigating as politicians condemn anti-vaxxer protest at Derry vaccination centre

The Health Minister Robin Swann and other politicians have condemned an anti-vaxxer protest at Foyle Arena in Derry at the weekend.

Monday, 16th August 2021, 8:38 am

Police have appealed for witnesses following the protest at the first vaccination clinic for pregnant women and new mothers as part of the vaccination programme roll out at Foyle Arena on Saturday.

Constable Laura Brown said police received a report at around 2.15pm that a small number of protestors had come into the Foyle Arena via the exit doors, carrying leaflets and a megaphone.

“They were said to have shouted abuse at a number of pregnant women attending the clinic, who were clearly upset by what happened.

The Foyle Arena in St Columb’s Park. DER2126GS - 130

“The protestors had left the Arena by the time police arrived at the location - and although officers carried out patrols in the area, they were unable to locate them.

“We are keen to identify the individuals involved in this protest and would ask anyone who was at the Foyle Arena and saw what happened – or has any information about the incident - to get in touch with police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 1021 of 14/8/21.”

Health Minister Robin Swann described the incident as “contemptible”.

“I want to express my gratitude and solidarity to the vaccination team working at the Foyle Arena today. I am pleased to see pregnant women and new mothers coming forward to get protected through vaccination, in line with expert scientific advice. I would encourage more to do so.

“There is sadly no reasoning with these anti-vax crusaders, who remain wedded to their misinformed and distorted agenda,” he claimed, adding: “My message to them is simple – you will not divert us from our responsibility to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Vaccination saves lives and reduces levels of serious illness.

“To people who have not yet got their jab, I say please make an informed choice, based on information from trusted sources. Please don’t miss out on the protection that being vaccinated brings.”

Foyle SDLP MLA Sinead McLaughlin also said protesters targeted pregnant women, queueing for vaccination.

The SDLP MLA said: “I utterly condemn this stupid behaviour by a group of protesters. The views being presented by this group are contrary to reputable medical advice and opinion, including that from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

“Pregnant women accessing health services must not be harassed. The fact that this needs to be said is absurd.”

Ms McLaughlin said she intends to request a meeting with the PSNI to discuss how pregnant women can be protected.

Sinn Féin MLA Colm Gildernew has also condemned anti-vaccine protestors who demonstrated outside the vaccine clinic.

The health spokesperson said: “I condemn the actions of anti-vaccine protestors who protested outside a walk-in COVID vaccination clinic for pregnant women in the Foyle arena in Derry.

“This is the first of a series to specialist walk-in vaccination clinics for pregnant women.

“No one going to access a vaccine or any form of health care should have to face disruption or attempted intimidation from protestors.

“The vaccination programme, together with an effective find, test, trace, isolate and support system, offers the best defence and protection against COVID.”