We are often too quick to bemoan the apathy of young people, and too hasty in making judgements as to their attitudes towards human life. Ultrasound, the pro-life student network founded by YD, first broached the idea of bringing an abortion survivor and an ex-abortion clinic worker to Ireland to tour third level institutions. This was an inspiring chance to let students hear the truth about abortion from those who had the most profound experiences of just how evil it really is. In November, thousands of students took this once in a lifetime opportunity to hear the testimonies of two amazing and courageous people - Gianna Jessen and Mark Bomchill.
The Revelation Tour began on Monday 21 November and ran until Tuesday 29 November, when it concluded with a packed hall and a rapturous reception in University College Cork (UCC). It began, incredibly, with adversity, since the administrators of University College Dublin (UCD) did their utmost to make the evening lecture impossible, despite a whole-hearted welcome from students during that day's Information Session.
Every college or university had been well prepared for Gianna and Mark's visit, and student members of YD and Ultrasound had spent months hanging posters and distributing information in readiness for the Tour. The Tour contained two key activities. Firstly we spent the whole day giving information to students, making contact with them and encouraging them to join Ultrasound. We were happy with the response in every university and college we visited. Then we had the impressive and powerful testimonies of both speakers in the evening.
During the Tour we distributed 80,000 pieces of pro-life information, all in full colour and using imaginative images and reasoned arguments to bring the truth about abortion to as many students as possible. We are very happy to report that we were cleaned out of literature! We also used 5,000 posters to advertise the testimonies in the evening - a huge amount since they were repeatedly torn down by a tiny but determined number of socialists and student union members. We gave students a great memento of the Tour - a wristband which declared "Life is Precious" - and it was wonderful to see thousands of students wear them with pride on every campus. They will provoke much useful debate in the months to come.
The Revelation Tour was remarkably successful. One student in Maynooth said it was the best thing to happen to the college since he had started there three years ago. Our heartfelt thanks go to Gianna, Mark and Mike for giving of their time, and for sharing their experiences. And, as always, the Tour could not have gone ahead without the assistance and prayers of so many supporters.
The Revelation Tour had been well organised in advance and bookings had been made in UCD and National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) months prior to the Tour dates. Both universities, to their shame, worked to prevent an abortion survivor speaking to students. Their actions have discredited Irish universities internationally and has shown their opposition to free speech when the subject does not please them.
UCD was the first to put obstacles in the way. We went and booked the room through the YD UCD society that had been active at the university for a number of years. We secured a room through the administration there without a problem and we confirmed the booking of the room no less than three times with the relevant people at the college. With less than a week to go before the scheduled talk, we were contacted by the university who informed us that YD UCD was no longer a registered society and therefore we would not be entitled to a room. This came as quite a surprise to us given that YD have had many pro-life events at UCD and that we were told three times that our room had been secured on behalf of the YD UCD society. We then attempted to book the same room through the UCD Conferencing Office but our booking was rejected for no apparent reason and the people at the conferencing office refused to discuss the matter with us. Refusing to give up we went and secured another room through an independent faculty at UCD. Contracts were signed and everything seemed fine up until the morning of Ms Jessen's talk when we were told that the insurance we had secured did not meet requirements and that the talk could not go ahead. Despite every effort of Ultrasound, UCD's administration would not let Ms Jessen speak. It then transpired that no insurance broker could provide the sort of insurance demanded by UCD, since they were calling the talk "a high risk event". With great disappointment, we had to cancel the evening event in UCD. The behaviour of the university made international news and UCD's president received hundreds of emails in protest.
Then the NUIG administration said they were going to cancel the Galway booking because we didn't have a "balanced debate". In other words, we didn't have a speaker arguing against Gianna and Mark! It transpired that this was not a written policy but a requirement only asked of Ultrasound for our event. Despite a signed contract NUIG administration said they would not allow the talk to go ahead. But this time the Ultrasound members were not going to allow free speech to be trampled into the dust.
Gianna and Mark were to give their testimony at 7pm. Hundreds of students turned up at the appointed hour but security guards refused them entrance to the theatre. Eoghan de Faoite, the YD chairman, asked the huge crowd assembled if they wanted to hear Gianna Jessen. A roar of approval arose and the testimonies were given there and then.