The Guardian newspaper was not distributed for sale in the Republic of Ireland as it contained an advertisement for abortion services in Britain.
The advertisement in The Guardian newspaper sparked the latest controversy in the abortion debate. 2,000 copies of early edition of The Guardian arrived in Dublin and were transported to the Eason's company depot in Dublin city centre. Eason's began shredding the page containing an advertisement placed by the Marie Stopes Clinic. Gardaí were present at Dublin airport when the newspapers arrived and had the authority to seize them if they were sold. However, as none had been distributed for sale no offence was committed.
It took an act of parliament to legalise abortion. Does it take an act of courage to talk about it?
The Eason company first learned of the advertisement the previous night on the television news. After receiving legal advice, Easons decided that it had no other option than to halt the distribution and sale of the newspaper.
Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) has raised concerns over the way in which the controversy became public. SPUC spokesperson Marie Vernon described the controversy as an effort to influence the outcome of the Maastricht debate.
The advert was placed by the Marie Stopes Clinic who claim it was aimed primarily at a British readership. Director of the Marie Stopes Clinics Helen Axby defended their position saying
This advertisement is part of an overall campaign which promotes all of Marie Stopes services.
There were heated exchanges in the Dáil on the issue with Fine Gael leader John Bruton asking for a time frame on legislation for a right to information on abortion. Leader of Democratic Left, Proinsias De Rossa, said that the events proved that we are living in,
An infantile theocracy.
Taoiseach Albert Reynolds rejected any suggestion of Garda intervention and said that the Eason company had acted itself. Speaking to RTÉ News Mr Reynolds said that a strange set of circumstances surrounded the publicity about the placing of the advertisement.
An RTÉ News report first broadcast on 20 May 1992. The reporter is Mark Little.