Local residents have described as “eerie” an automated phone call that has targeted land lines nationally in the wake of an abortion debate following the death of a pregnant woman in a Galway hospital.
A city woman, who asked that her name not be used because the call came to her elderly mother’s house and the woman didn’t want to upset her mother, said it was disturbing to receive the call, particularly as it was 9.30 at night.
Describing the call as “eerie,” she said the automated message asked her to press 1 for more information – it didn’t specify what the information would be – but she hung up instead.
One of the calls, which can be heard at thejournal.ie, begins by quoting retired obstetrician Eamon O’Dwyer, a Kilkenny native – even though he has told national media that he has nothing to do with the calls and did not know that his words would be used in that format.
Mentioning “the tragic loss of a young mother in Galway (that) has shocked the nation,” the call goes on to say: “Please feel free to leave us a message with your thoughts on whether we should continue protecting mother and child under our current pro-life laws or legislate for abortion based on the British model, or any thoughts you have if you are unsure.”
The calls continued to be made in recent weeks despite the Data Protection Commissioner closing the line from which they were originally made.
Former Senator Mick Lanigan said he too had received one of the calls, but he hung up when he realised that it was a machine rather than a person on the line.
“It struck me as very very strange that there is somebody sending out a string of recorded messages,” he said. “What worries me is that nobody on either side of the argument on the abortion issue seems to want to wait until the full report resulting from the inquiry into what happened in Galway comes out.”
He said that Eircom should be able to monitor where such calls are coming from and be able to put a stop to them because it is a misuse of the phone service.