Pro-life activists have described last weekend’s Save the 8th Rally for Life as ‘the real Citizens Assembly’.
They also vowed that the tens of thousands who marched through Dublin on Saturday 1st July would work ‘night and day’ to ensure the 8th amendment would be saved.
Niamh Uí Bhriain, of the Life Institute, said: “This is an incredible, powerful day, when massive crowds of ordinary people turned out to Save the 8th, to say no to abortion and yes to Life, to tell Leo Varadkar that he would lose this referendum on abortion, because the pro-life majority has arisen and will work night and day to Save the 8th.”
She said 50,000 people were expected to show up at the rally, however, up to 80,000 people took part and brought Dublin city to a standstill as they joined in to Save the 8th.
Addressing the rally, to prolonged applause she told protesters: “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 8th, and we, the people, demand a better answer than abortion for our mothers and babies.”
Ms Uí Bhriain said that the rally was a catalyst for a whole series of Save the 8th events planned for the summer and that the campaign was confident that the abortion referendum would fail.
Meanwhile, sovereignty campaigner Declan Ganley told the crowd that “there is not one thing in this world that is made better by the snuffing out of an unborn child”.
“There is no woman whose life is the better for it,” he stressed. “There is no community made stronger by it. There is only death, and a void where hope might have been.”
Mr Ganley urged those attending the rally to get involved in the campaign and make a stand for life.
The loudest cheers of the day were for Karen Gaffney, a leading international advocate for people with Down Syndrome who urged the crowd to Save the 8th to protect the right to life of “people like me”, and warned that in other countries, aggressive screening programmes meant that up to 100 per cent of people with Down Syndrome were being aborted.
“We want to belong, don’t screen us out,” she said.
Vicky Wall, from Every Life Counts, moved many to tears as she spoke movingly about her daughter Líadán who was diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, Trisomy 18.
She said: “Liádán’s life was protected by the 8th amendment, she was given the respect as our daughter. Even though she had a life-limiting condition, she was loved and valued as much as her brother and sister. All she knew was love.”
Other speakers included Carolyn O’Meara of Giannacare, Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life, Becky Kealy of Youth Defence, and Isabel Vaughen Spruce of March for Life UK.
The national rally to Save the 8th began at Parnell Square at 2pm, as pro-life activists responded to Leo Varadkar’s decision to hold an abortion referendum next year. There was a carnival atmosphere in Parnell Sq, with face-painting, balloons and performances from acclaimed Scottish tenor Martin Alred, up and coming Longford rapper Evans Junior, and trad musicians.
Ms Uí Bhriain said that grassroots activists right across the country had been mobilised by the government’s decision to hold a referendum to repeal the right to life of preborn children.
“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, and that if we want to best protect the lives of both mother and baby we should Save the 8th,” she said.
The Life Institute spokeswoman said people had been horrified by the extreme recommendations issued by the assembly set up by the government, which included abortion ‘without restriction’ and abortion on socio-economic grounds.
“We’ve seen thousands of people training up to become part of our pro-life door-to-door canvass, and later today we’ll see the pro-life movement in full swing when tens of thousands of people come to the Save the 8th rally.
“This will be the real Citizens’ Assembly, when massive crowds come to say that we should not repeal the right-to-life, and that we can do better for mothers and babies than legalising the killing of children before they are born.”
Picture: Citizens assembled in Dublin on Saturday lead the fight to keep the 8th amendment, which protects unborn Irish babies.