By Cian Molloy - 02 July, 2017
Organisers of yesterday’s Rally for Life in Dublin reckon that more than 50,000 people took part in the event in support of Ireland’s constitutional protection of the life of the child in the womb, as provided by the eighth amendment to Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Irish Constitution).
“It was an incredible, powerful day, when massive crowds of ordinary people turned out to ‘Save the Eighth’ and to say ‘No to abortion and yes to life’,” said Niamh Uí Bhrian of the Life Institute, who along with Youth Defence and the Pro Life Campaign organised the rally.
The rally is an annual event, but this year it had a particular focus, as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is committed to holding a constitutional referendum on the abortion issue within the lifetime of this present government.
Traffic was brought to a standstill in Dublin city centre as the rally travelled from Parnell Square to Merrion Square, where Ms Uí Bhrian told the gathered throng: “This is the real Citizens’ Assembly, this is the real voice of the Irish people, and we are here to tell Mr Varadkar that he will lose the referendum he is so eagerly pushing, because we, the people, have arisen to Save the Eighth, and we, the people, demand a better answer than abortion for our mothers and babies.” Her words were followed by prolonged applause.
She said the rally would act as a catalyst for a series of Save the Eighth events planned for the summer and, with pro-life activists working “day and night”, campaigners were confident that the abortion referendum would fail.
The assembled crowd made Karen Gaffney, who has Down Syndrome and is an international campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities, especially welcome, greeting her presence with loud cheers.
She urged the crowd to work to “Save the Eighth to protect the life of people like me” and she warned that in countries with indiscriminate abortion availability, aggressive screening programmes mean that 100 per cent of people with Down Syndrome are exterminated through abortion.
“The Rally for Life is always a huge, colourful, exciting, life-affirming event but this year it has a special focus: to tell the government and the nation that the pro-life majority are activated and motivated,” said Ms Uí Bhrian.
“People have been horrified by the extreme recommendations recently issued by the Citizens’ Assembly, including abortion ‘without restriction’ and abortion on socio-economic grounds.”
Earlier in the afternoon, at a Mass for the Protection of Life held in St Saviour’s Church, Dominick Street, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said that the pro-life message was a message of love.
“Being pro-life means that we have an uncompromised passion for life, for what life is and never categorise any life to be of lesser values than others.
“Being pro-life is not an ideology of slogans. It involves the way we live.
“Being pro-life means that we are always on the side of life and life in its fullness. It means that we fight to avoid the emptiness of so many visions of our society and that we continually remember that we ourselves need conversion to Christ who is light and life.
“Being pro-life means especially that we are called to accompany and be alongside those who are suffering and facing challenges in their life. We think of those challenged by crisis pregnancy; we think of young people who have grown up adrift in a society where the dignity of life can be so undermined; we think of those whose lives end up oppressed or repressed.
“The pro-life message is a message of love. It can only be preached and proclaimed in love, never with a language of judgementalism, hatred, or harshness.
“Being pro-life means dealing with everyone with respect, just as being pro-life in today’s society deserves being treated with respect for the right of any citizen to make their views and convictions known.
“Being pro-life is a way to live as active citizens in defending that fundamental principle of democracy that every life has equal value, that we are all equal before the law. A society that begins to establish its own categories of lives that are considered of lesser value than others, begins a process that undermines democracy.”