By Ann Marie Foley - 27 June, 2019
The Future Leaders Programme for pro-life young people was announced by Clare McCarthy at the 5th Annual Dinner for Pro-Life Education in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel on Saturday night (22 June 2019).
A young pro-life volunteer herself, Clare McCarthy said that the new initiative for young people will “equip them with the skills, arguments and motivation to promote the pro-life message in 21st century Ireland.”
She highlighted the fact that thousands of young people became politically active to protect unborn babies and their mothers during the abortion referendum campaign in 2018. She explained that the goal of the Future Leaders Programme is to support and build on this “youthful dynamism” to help them in “reframing the debate on the right to life” on college campuses and in the public square.
She quoted Sophie Scholl, a 20th century witness to hope, who said: “Stand for what you believe in, even if you are standing alone.”
Speaking to the 600 people present she said: “The good news is that we are not standing alone. Look around the room this evening and see all the potential that exists for the future.”
Another speaker at the event, Elma Walsh of the LiveLife Foundation, emphasised the importance of educating young people to be consistent in their respect for human life and dignity. She is the mother of Donal Walsh, who inspired many young people as he lived life to the full until his death from cancer in 2013, aged 16.
“Young people learn from what they see every day from participation, the witness of others, and engaging effectively,” said Elma Walsh. “I know many people are saddened by the loss of last year’s referendum but we should never become disheartened. We can never lose hope,” she said. “There are signs from other countries that the tide can turn back in favour of respect for life. With hope in our hearts, we must strive to become even better witnesses for life in new and inspiring ways.”
The annual Ceiliúradh Cois Life dinner raises funds for the Pro Life Campaign’s work in education. This year the focus was on pro-life outreach to students in third level education and was the fifth such event since its inauguration by Senator Rónán Mullen and the Pro Life Campaign in 2015.
Senator Mullen congratulated candidates in the recent local and European elections who publicly took a strong stand in defence of unborn children. He said the results proved that pro-life candidates can succeed and paved the way for the election of many more in the future.
He stated that in the coming months pro-life volunteers will be involved at a political level on protecting freedom of conscience for medical personnel and in ensuring that positive alternatives to abortion become much more visible.
Eilís Mulroy of the Pro Life Campaign thanked all the organisation’s supporters, donors and volunteers for their commitment.
She said that the huge turnout was further proof that the pro-life movement is resilient and re-energised following last year’s abortion referendum. She said that those present should take encouragement from the very noticeable high numbers of young people who attended.