On February 3rd the Irish Council of Civil Liberties held a conference in the Law Society in Dublin to discuss the role of the recently appointed Human Rights Commission in Ireland. YD picketed the conference to highlight the fact that any body which supports abortion cannot be said to be guardians of civil liberties and human rights. We called on the ICCL to withdraw its original submission and to recognise the right to life of the unborn child. In view of the fact that the former Chairman of the ICCL - Michael Farrell - is a member designate of the Human Rights Commission, we also asked the Government to guarantee that the HRC could not be used as a platform to promote the legalisation of abortion. While YD picketed outside, some members joined pro-life supporters who were busy inside and succeeded in repeatedly making their views heard.
The third school year of Schools Information Project began in September with the annual mailing to the secondary schools. Each school received our newly revised student leaflet and the redesigned poster, and a web guide and giftpen.
Both teachers and students genuinely loved the stuff.
They also complimented YD on the whole package which they said “brought about some of the most interesting classtimes” and prompted some schools to concentrate on a "Life" project with the involvement of the whole class.
The Union of Students in Ireland – USI - which has involved itself in the campaign to dehumanise unborn children for more than a decade held a one day conference, entitled USI and Abortion Now to decide which of the options on the government Green paper on abortion to put forward to the USI Congress in March.
It would be a mistake however to confuse the views of the Student Union executive with the opinions of the students who attend colleges which are affiliated to USI. Students are forced to become part of the Students Union upon registering with a third level institute affiliated with USI, and union fees are automatically charged to each student when they register. An unscientific poll taken on every campus confirmed that students would rather keep the money for beer by a majority of 99%.
YD student members decided to attend this USI conference as we suspected that, in typical USI fashion, the conference would be a farce, attended by a few abortion activists who would then purport to represent the entire student body.
And so it proved to be. The "conference" was swelled to almost double its original size by just a few YD attendees.
The largest “student representative” body in Ireland managed to get nine student union officers, a guest speaker and eight attendees - all members of YD, to discuss the weighty issues on their list of student concerns. The Students officers present spent the day attempting to rubbish pro-life arguments in an increasingly aggressive fashion. As the conference drew to a close the YD members present were told that the "findings" of the conference would be brought to the Welfare Board which would decide which motion to bring before the USI Congress in March. In short the SU executive would agree on what tack to take when the conference attendees were gone. It was pointed out to the student officers that there was little point holding a conference if they were not prepared to listen to the views of the only students who had attended.
YD student members planned an Information Campaign covering every college in the country to inform students that they are to be represented at Congress by student officers who will not represent their pro-life views. They encouraged students to tell their delegates in no uncertain terms that they could not support any motion that promoted the victimisation of mothers and babies.
Abortion is NEVER medically necessary
Youth Defence gave a guarded welcome to Option 3 in the 5th Progress Report on Abortion, which was issued by the Fianna Fáil led government in November 2000. While Fianna Fail did at least favour the option of a constitutional amendment which would be put to the people in a referendum, the lack of clarity in that option was worrying.
Fianna Fail's understanding of the practical issues seem to be profoundly flawed, especially their confusion, real or otherwise with regard to medical ethics as laid down by the Medical Council.
YD felt that any danger of legalising abortion by the back door, by allowing a broad interpretation of "current medical practice" needed to be opposed immediately – and needed to be clarified for the public. With that in mind we designed Project Life - a full colour Billboard and bus advertisement campaign - which spelled out this undeniable truth: Abortion never saves a mother's life. It just kills a baby. Pro-Life referendum now.
We needed to state the irrefutable fact that abortion is never medically necessary in the most public way possible. This authoritative nationwide advertising campaign - 120 Bus and 60 Billboard advertisements - struck a powerful chord not only with ordinary people who saw the pro-life message but with the opponents of a pro-life referendum such as Senator Mary Henry who, in a letter to the Irish Times demanded, to no avail, that the advertisements be withdrawn.
So it’s prison rules Mary, ay!
As part of Project Life we also designed and produced an accompanying leaflet which was distributed on a nationwide basis; door-to-door within the constituencies, at shopping centres, churches and in town and city centres. We were delighted with the response of the public to the leaflet, who were glad to hear that abortion wasn’t needed to save women’s lives, a blatant lie repeatedly told by pro-aborts who never let the truth stand in the way of pure scaremongering.
A High Court Injunction, in place for almost two years against Youth Defence and a number of named people for protesting outside the Dublin headquarters of the Irish Family Planning Association, was lifted on 12 February 2001 after the court was told no legal proceedings had been taken in the previous 23 months.
Discharging the interlocutory injunction, Mr. Justice Vivian Lavan said injunctions should "not be left lie and treated as permanent. People must be aware that they have a strong obligation to process proceedings once a court injunction is given. In this case, the IFPA has not moved for 2 years.”
New threat in the North
On Wednesday 13th June 2001, the Northern Ireland Family Planning Association (NIFPA) went to the High Court in Belfast to seek leave to apply for a Judicial Review of the current state of medical practice in relation to abortion in Northern Ireland. Lord Justice Kerr said that a full judicial review would be heard in the Autumn.
The judge gave Precious Life three weeks to file a written submission and said he would then rule on the question of their participation. Other parties involved were SPUC, Christian Action Research & Education, LIFE and the Catholic Church. This court case was part of a concerted campaign to introduce abortion on demand into Northern Ireland. The campaign is being waged by a coalition of well-financed pro-abortion groups. NIFPA is affiliated to IPPF- the biggest and most powerful promoter of abortion in the world.
Although Precious Life couldn’t match the financial resources of the pro-aborts, they were determined that the unborn would be defended.
Anyone with any experience of campaigning for a NO vote in the various European Referenda, knows what a dreary slog it can be. Those with long memories will recall the resounding 83% Yes in 1972 and there seemed to be little progress made by 1987 on the SEA when the Yes was 70%. Hardly the sort of stuff to make your average eu-wary type to jump around with glee. It looked as though an EU super state was rolling on in.
For pro-lifers the suspicion was, (and this became a reality when a European constitution was later proposed), that such a state would see abortion as a service much like the majority of European countries. We thought that we might try and do something in opposition to the march of a state modelled on these lines, so over a month before the announcement of the final date for the referendum we set about putting the basic elements of the No to Nice Campaign in place.
We began with a series of meetings around the country, both to rally and to test the level of support we could count on in the campaign. In general the meetings were highly successful building as they did on the network created over the previous summer by the Mother and Child Campaign.
So the campaign was cranked into gear and leaflets were shunted onto volunteers (mainly willing ones) at countrywide meetings with the instructions to knock on doors with gusto.
Our egging-on of said volunteers was too effective to ensure a relaxed and blissful life and we had to print piles more leaflets in no time at all. By polling day over 1,000,000 leaflets had been distributed nationwide in a canvass which reached into practically every corner or sheebeen in the country.
We had these killer posters as well which everyone was on about – even Bertie. There were two of them if memory serves me correctly:
You Will Lose! Power, Money, Freedom
Don't Give Europe Total Control
and the visually striking message of the black and red poster brought the message to the whole country.
You may remember the “You will Lose” poster if you were at any GAA match during that summer, (and even during the next year) it replaced the John 3:7 sign as the iconic poster hoisted at every game during the summer of 2001.
Amazingly this was done with only 5,000 such posters. So enraged by the blanket coverage and effect these posters had, the Taoiseach claimed that spending by the No to Nice Campaign topped £100,000 on posters alone!
“Will these guys ever leave me in peace,” said poor Bertie.
Great use was made of the local media, radio stations in particular, in exposing the falsity of the Governments claims that Nice was about enlargement. Slowly but surely the message of the transfer of power from the smaller to the larger states was getting out. And the effects of door to door canvassing were beginning to show.
At this point the Government panicked, and Bertie Ahern made his famous accusation that the No to Nice Campaign was funded "largely with American money" and this had come from a "right-wing fundamentalist group." We took the unprecedented step of publishing our accounts during a campaign, which nipped that nonsense in the bud.
Nonetheless the final hours before the vote were nerve-wrecking. On Friday morning, however, everything was revealed with early tallies predicting confidently that the NO was in a majority almost everywhere. The final vote, at 54% NO to 46% YES was a resounding tribute to the hard work of volunteers the length and breadth of the nation, and a most unpleasant surprise to all the main political parties.
It is not surprising that the Government didn’t like the will of the people but it was an unprecedented new low for them to reject it altogether. The instantaneous agreement among politicians of all kinds and media commentators was that a new referendum would have to be held until the people gave the right answer.
School exams finished and the Roadshow rolled around once again. This year we decided to follow a slightly different format and target towns that had not seen a pro-life street session for some time, while leaving aside those towns which we regularly visited.
Everyone was on a bit of a high after the Nice campaign so it wasn’t hard to get everyone out again even after such a short time.
Needless to say it was a great buzz and all our bright-eyed enthusiasm managed to rope in a fair few inquisitive young minds who wanted to know what all the craic was about. “It’s that winning feeling my friends,” we said.
An enormous amount of volunteer hours went into the creation of Ireland's premier pro-life site, which was only achieved with the huge support and hard work that went into this ambitious project. TruthTV has approximately 4,500 superbly designed and user-friendly pages and is an ongoing process.
Hell, you’re still reading aren’t you?
This was so amazing that we had to give it a separate write-up. Our Schools Project website clocked up a million hits each year since 1999!. The site was built to complement our schools program but then took on a life of its own.Word of mouth and the sheer excellence of the presentation mean its popularity is growing and we’ve made in available in French with requests coming in to also translate it into Spanish and Russian!