Thank you for coming, for raising your voice, and for making the Rally for Life the biggest pro-life event in Irish history.
60,000 rallied for Life and brought Dublin to a standstill demanding that the abortion bill should be put to the people in a referendum under Article 27 of the Constitution. Fine Gael were also warned that 'a new political alternative' would emerge if the right of the people to vote was denied on the issue.
Over 60,000 people marched from Parnell Square as the colourful Rally passed down O'Connell Street and made it's way to Leinster House where speakers including the democracy campaigner Declan Ganley challenged Enda Kenny to put the abortion bill to the people in a referendum. The crowd held placards and banners calling on the government to 'Let Us Vote'. It took more than an hour and half for the Rally to pass the Spire on O'Connell Street.
At Leinster House, the massive crowd heard from democracy campaigner, Declan Ganley, Dr Eoghan de Faoite of Youth Defence, Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life and others. "Let those Senators and TDs use the power granted to them under article 27 of our constitution to let the people speak on this bill," Declan Ganley told the crowd to sustained applause. "Let us vote. Let us pass judgement on Enda Kenny’s abortion bill in a referendum. He says his book is the constitution.
"Well use it, Taoiseach. He says he trusts the people. Well prove it, Taoiseach. He says this is a matter of grave concern to the public. Well ask them, Taoiseach. "
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute added that:
If you refuse, Taoiseach, to let the people vote, then the people will be heard. 100,000 people have already signed the pro-life pledge, 100,000 will seek to build a new political alternative, 100,000 will remember Taoiseach, that if you ram through this law, you are the abortion Taoiseach and Fine Gael is the abortion party, and they will seek an alternative which protects both mother and baby.
Fine Gael, she said, had now awoken a sleeping giant, that would work night and day to build an alternative to political parties who broke their promises and betrayed their principles. Dr Eoghan de Faoite of Youth Defence said the Rally Committee was "absolutely delighted with the huge turnout" and that "there was a huge momentum building to let the people vote on the Bill using Article 27 of the Constitution.""This initiative came from within Fine Gael itself and is also being promoted by the former Labour TD Colm Keaveney, so it's clear that the desire to let the people vote has support across the parties," he said. "What is Enda Kenny afraid of?"
Dr de Faoite re-affirmed Ireland as one of the safest places in the world for a mother to have a baby and said the abortion bill was about 'ending lives, not saving lives.' The Rally also heard from Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life who said that the measure would impact on the whole island of Ireland and was out of step with the majority of people in the north of Ireland. "The All Party Pro-Life Group from Stormont is represented here today, since this is a matter for All-Ireland, as we stand together against abortion," she said. Special guest Tracy Harkin told the Rally that "almost 7 years ago my husband Tom and I were told our baby girl Kathleen Rose was diagnosed with a condition called trisomy 13, a condition sometimes described as being 'incompatible with life'.""Well, Kathleen Rose is with us here today. She is not incompatible with life: she is the love of our lives," she said to rapturous applause.
Bands, face-painting, family fun and music gave a carnival-like atmosphere to the Rally but the speeches at Leinster House focused on the consequences for Fine Gael if the Bill is made law without consulting the people.
Close to 100,000 pledges have been signed by voters saying they will never vote for Fine Gael again because of the legislation. Niamh Ui Bhriain said that the time was "ripe for a new political alternative which would not betray serious electoral promises on matters of life and death".
Before the Rally for Life on Saturday, Archbishops Diarmuid and Eamon Martin celebrated Mass in St. Saviour's Church, Dominick St at 12.30pm, where the Archbishop of Dublin told the congregation that the wilful destruction of human life was never acceptable and that "our activities in the defence of human life must be seen and understood and be recognised not as narrow politics or ideology or spin-doctoring, but as authentic loving concern."
60,000 people marched in Dublin yesterday for mothers and babies. It was a beautiful day!
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Hello, my name is Tracy — and over 6 years ago my husband Tom and I became parents of a very special little girl.
Our daughter Kathleen Rose, was born in November 2006. Shortly after birth she was diagnosed with a condition called Trisomy 13. We were told her future was bleak.
If diagnosed in the womb she would have been termed ‘incompatible with life.
However, still alive and kicking after birth, she was now termed ‘life limited’. Doctors told us she would be mentally and physically handicapped and may not even survive her first year.
Despite this dismal diagnosis, we continued to insist that our baby be given every opportunity to reach her full potential - no matter what that may be.
Doctors followed our directives and following successful surgery we welcomed Kathleen home to the love and care of her family. Never are mothers and babies more vulnerable than when given a bleak diagnosis for their child in the womb.
It is vital that parents are given truthful, accurate information and realise there is always hope and support. The term incompatible with life is such a hurtful, horrible phrase, since it implies that the baby's life is worthless.
Most babies like Kathleen with a condition like Trisomy 13, do live beyond birth, and every minute of their lives is precious. Here in Ireland we know, that 90% of parents do not choose abortion in these situations.
And we know that proper services, like perinatal hospices, provide valuable education and support which help parents to choose Life. I recently had the privilege of listening to mothers who had lost their babies shortly after birth.
With the loss of any child, grief and suffering cannot be avoided. But these mothers described the immense comfort they gained from their precious memories of holding and loving their babies in their arms .
Their child was born, their child was loved, their child was named, and their child was laid to rest with dignity.
It is truly shocking therefore to see politicians wanting to introduce abortion rather than help parents celebrate these precious memories of their children.
It is these memories that sustain parents when their child is gone: the celebration of a unique life, however short - because every life counts. The term, ‘incompatible with life’ is also misleading.
The reality is that no doctor can predict with certainty how a child will fare outside of the womb. This dreadful legislation proposes babies like Kathleen can be cruelly destroyed before birth. This is anything but compassionate.
This type of thinking does not belong in a civilized and progressive society. We know that in other countries abortion has cruelly eliminated huge number of unborn babies simply because they have been diagnosed as imperfect.
The ideology of choice has become a smokescreen for a sinister practice of targeting babies with disabilities in the womb, in the name of compassion, exploiting parents at their most vulnerable and robbing communities of precious members.
I am so glad, today, to lift high, and shed light on, all special children who are being loved and cherished within families and communities the length and breadth of this country.
I am so happy to share with you the good news that our little girl Kathleen Rose is now 6 years old and is here with us today. Kathleen has defied all the medical experts, Kathleen is not incompatible with life, she is the love of our lives!
Kathleen has a beautiful distinct personality and is known most for her mischievous laughter and enormous hugs .
It is children like Kathleen that are such precious jewels within our culture. Why? Because they give love in abundance.
These children are sent to us for a reason. It is children like Kathleen that teach us how to love. We become better parents, more loving people and richer communities by having these pure souls in our midst.
In this country let us continue to celebrate and defend, with every breath in our bodies, a culture of life for all, irrespective of disability or life expectancy.
For, none of us are perfect and none of us will live in this world forever!
Let us all continue with the greatest confidence to stand tall as a nation for life and to stand together as a people- who recognise the worth and value of every human person.
There is always a better answer than abortion. I know that. Kathleen Rose knows that.
Let's make sure our politicians know it too.