Were vigils “worse than normal” in Lent 2021?

City of Edinburgh Council’s Policy & Sustainability discussed abortion clinic vigils at a meeting on 23rd February, 2021. Cllr Claire Miller was not then a member of this committee but attended because she had initiated a motion about vigils at a previous City of Edinburgh Committee.

Cllr Millier told the 23 February Policy & Sustainability Committee:

“just now during lent, the protests that take place outside the Chalmers health centre, obviously escalate every year. I’m not sure if everyone’s aware of that and it’s maybe not touched on in the report, this is a very timely discussion because every year during Lent the people who protest there, choose to take this period of time in the year to increase their protest, to do as much as they can. So it’s actually worse than normal….”

https://edinburgh.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/548528/start_time/4998000?force_language_code=en_GB At approx; 1:25:45


Lent is a six week period (40 days) period leading up to Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Maunday Thursday. In 2021, Lent started on Wednesday, 17 February and ended on Thursday, 1 April. Since 2017, the vigil group 40 Days for Life have usually run an Edinburgh event during Lent.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the Scottish Government imposed a ‘stay at home’ order from 5 January until 2 April 2021. Many business or services were restricted and people were required by law to stay in their homes and to work from home. The 23 February City of Edinburgh Council meeting which Cllr Miller addressed took place on Zoom for this reason. Abortion clinic vigils in Edinburgh were also suspended for this reason.

Cllr Miller represents the City Centre Ward and the Chalmers health centre is located in her Ward.

Cllr Miller did not respond to a request to comment

Conclusion: MISLEADING

Cllr Miller is correct that 23 February 2021 was during Lent and there has usually been more vigil activity during this period. However, in 2021, no vigil was running “just now” due to lockdown restrictions imposed by the Scottish Government. Even during lockdown it would be reasonable to expect Cllr Miller to know what was happening in her own Ward, particularly in relation to a subject in which she has a special interest. Cllr Miller’s statement is therefore rated as MISLEADING