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!