I started volunteering in the Youth Defence office a few weeks before the Roadshow, but travelling around Ireland doing pro-life work truly helped me to see what YD does best.
The Roadshow was centred around unborn children and their mothers. Rosaries on the road and street sessions helped us keep that focus. There was definitely a lot of fun mixed in there as well.
During the street sessions I learned from the older members of YD, who held respectful, informed discussions with both those that disagreed and those interested in what we were doing. They taught the “newbies” how to read people’s reactions (“This woman wants to ask a question, but is not sure who to approach”). The younger members of the Roadshow amazed me with their ability to politely deal with less respectful dissenters as they walked by. Everyone recognized the seriousness of abortion but also made a point to celebrate life. Every child that walked by our setup received a balloon and a sucker.
We met adversaries in the weather, the gardai, the "woman's rights" activists and most especially, in the faces of apathy. With Youth Defence I learned to anticipate the struggles and thrive under them. I was most inspired by the protest outside the Irish Family Planning Association in Limerick. Despite pressures from the garda paddy wagon and some passersby, we stayed strong and made known the truth: "Abortion is...murder!" As I looked around at the faces of those around me, I thought to myself: YD thrives on this activism.
The Roadshow gave me gems that I can bring back to the Dublin office and eventually back to America. I would like to thank YD for showing me Ireland, teaching me how to have a good time, and for letting me serve. The people of Ireland are blessed to have a Constitution that respects the unborn and to have a group like Youth Defence that works hard to keep it that way.
It has been said that abortion is the world’s best kept secret – and that it has to be, because the reality would not be tolerated if it was exposed. Taking a major step in exposing that secret is Youth Defence’s annual pro-life Roadshow which has just finished a major tour of the country.
Each summer, young pro-life volunteers give up two weeks of their summer to take part in this national pro-life information tour. Some are students; others generously use their holiday time to undertake this important pro-life work. On July 7th, 30 young volunteers, both seasoned pro-lifers and brand new activists alike, met at the Life House to get the show on the road. Most volunteers are from Ireland, but young people from the USA, England, Poland, France and Belgium also came to learn pro-life activism from Youth Defence. By the end of the tour almost 70 people had volunteered during a packed itinerary of non-stop activities to defend and celebrate life.
The 2010 Road show was also a landmark event for YD: it was our 20th nationwide pro-life information road show – and it’s getting better year by year.
Each day the road show team visited a town to hold what we call a street information session. Our pro-life stalls bring the truth about abortion to the Irish public and we give real information about the issue to those who need it. It gives us the perfect opportunity to engage with and debate those who are sitting on the fence or who claim to be ‘pro-choice’. At stalls from Drogheda to Galway to Waterford, we met people eager for pro-life information, we challenged people to question their beliefs on this issue, and we collected tens of thousands of pro-life petitions.
We distribute educational material on the development of the child in the womb, on the harm abortion causes to women, on the reality of abortion and much more. One focus of our street information session is showing the photographs of the reality of abortion to the public. We get some criticism for doing so, more often from the media and/or some conservatives than from the general public.
Believe me, I don’t like looking at those photographs at all, but the fact is that revealing exactly what abortion is saves many lives. It’s worth everything when, as frequently happens, a young mother comes up to one of us at our street session to tell us that she chose life for her child because she saw those images. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has continually said that ‘America will never reject abortion until America sees abortion.’ Due to the excellent response we have received on the Roadshow, I believe the Irish public has, and will, continue to reject abortion. That is the driving force for all our work. We must not let Ireland add to the grisly tally of 43 millions babies killed through abortion around the world each year.
One of the first pro-life events I took part in was the Youth Defence summer Roadshow a number of years ago and it left a profound effect on me. I experienced first-hand the attitudes that exist in relation to abortion amongst the general public. I learned from experienced pro-lifers how to listen, how to explain, and how to effectively engage with the public on these issues.
Ireland is a pro-life nation. Time and again, the Irish people have proved that as a country we will always strive to protect our most defenceless and vulnerable. So, very often, when I am taking part in pro-life activities, members of the public ask me why I bother campaigning on a something that is currently not allowed to take place in this country.
The reality is that abortion is an issue that affects everyone in our society. There is no escaping that fact. When I’m manning a street information stall, I meet the mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents and friends who’ve been shell-shocked by abortion. This year in particular, it became apparent to me that men especially are feeling a deep hurt and a certain kind of helplessness, a kind of unspoken grief for lost children, because they are told that abortion is an issue solely about women’s rights. On the Roadshow, the stark reality of the hurt caused by abortion and confusion caused by this carefully crafted lie is palpable.
My role on the 2010 Road show was as an organiser, and it was with great joy that I witnessed many new, young and eager volunteers who came on board. Over the course of ten days, this group of pro-lifers, ignited with a zeal for the pro-life cause, went on an action-packed tour of the country, distributing over 100,000 pieces of pro-life literature, reports, badges, stickers, balloons and DVDs. We stopped at over twenty towns and cities all over Ireland, and as always, the reception the pro-life message received from the public was very positive. We also had a presence outside of abortion referral agencies around the country, offering real information and help to women just as they are about to book an abortion.
Here in the Life House, we were delighted to hear that the first ever pro-life road show also took place Scotland, organised by young members of SPUC Scotland and inspired by the Irish example!
It’s easy to become complacent, and it’s easy to become discouraged when we hear pro-abortion reports in the media. But we have to remember, if we really want to keep abortion out of Ireland then it is up to us to act. We cannot leave what John Paul II called ‘the most important work on earth’ to others. And if you do decide to do your bit to keep abortion out of Ireland, you will never regret it. It’s been my privilege to work alongside such selfless and committed young people, and it has been my honour to be a voice for the unborn child in places where there was no else to speak up for them. Please contact Youth Defence on 01 8730463 if you would like to help.
My decision to join the Youth Defence Roadshow was easily made. One of my school friends approached me and told me about Youth Defence (YD), their road show and that we could spend 10 days around Ireland during the summer doing pro-life work. Immediately I was in!
The Wednesday came and I was on my way to Dublin. That 4 hour bus journey was over and we eventually managed to find our way to the Life House, YD’s office in Dublin. At once, it was all go! We set off for our first stop in Dundalk, the adventure had begun.
To reach the maximum amount of towns and people, YD split into two groups for most of the days on the tour. Each group goes into a town and sets up a street stall containing pro-life information including leaflets, DVD’s, precious feet badges, Youth Defence flyers, and even lollipops! The stall also has petition boards which we encourage people to sign to help protect the unborn child. Various YD volunteers also split up and carry leaflets and petition boards to a different corner or across the street, to try reach those who do not pass by the stall, and maximise the impact of the day.
Probably the most important and memorable parts of the Roadshow are the conversations and discussions had with members of the public. To see the look on people’s faces when they come to realise the true humanity of the unborn child immediately gives reassurance and tells you the work is worth doing. The reaction on the street can be fairly mixed, and differs from town to town. No matter how people reacted, knowing this work is making, and will make, a difference and will possibly save the lives of countless children was a good enough reason for me to continue through the heckles and scoffs that a small number of vocal “pro-choice” people gave . Numerous people on the street were supportive; plenty shook my hand and said, “Well done” or “Keep up the good work” and some even offered to buy us all a cup of tea!
I came with my friend on the Roadshow and I knew no one else before the first day; however the people who worked with me on our pro-life tour were the friendliest people I know to date. I had worried about being the fussy eater of the bunch, but to cater for me they made me my own special dinner. Each day. They were not afraid to enjoy themselves after a hard day’s pro-life work either!
All in all, the Roadshow was an experience that I’ll never forget: travelling around Ireland, meeting so many new people, and potentially changing lives. I know that there are and will be numerous fruits from YD and their work, but being out there with them and helping with the pro-life work in Ireland was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had.
|Wed, 7th July||Drogheda||Main Street||1 PM|
|Wed, 7th July||Dundalk||Main Street||1 PM|
|Thur, 8th July||Athlone||Main Street||1 PM|
|Thur, 8th July||Mullingar||Main Street||1 PM|
|Fri, 9th July||Sligo||Main Street||1 PM|
|Fri, 9th July||Longford||Main Street||1 PM|
|Sat, 10th July||Castlebar||Main Street||1 PM|
|Sat, 10th July||Ballina||Main Street||1 PM|
|Mon, 12th July||Galway||Shop Street / Square||1 PM|
|Tues, 13th July||Limerick||O'Connell Street||1 PM|
|Wed, 14th July||Tralee||Main Street||1 PM|
|Thur, 15th July||Cork||Winthorp Street||1 PM|
|Fri, 16th July||Clonmel||Main Street||1 PM|
|Fri, 16th July||Waterford||Red Square||1 PM|
|Sat, 17th July||Kilkenny||Main Street||1 PM|
|Sat, 17th July||Portlaoise||Main Street||1 PM|