A YD contingent was amongst the fifty or so who assembled at last minute notice to register protest at the grisly workshop of Philip Nitschke, otherwise known as Dr. Death. Nitschke, a constant courter of controversy, was back in town preaching the gospel of death by horse pills and plastic bags.
Inside the Seomra Spraoi, where it was all happening, a similar number of journalists looked on in morbid curiosity as Nitschke basked in all the sic glory. Caught between the survey of the milling press and Nitschke’s gimlet eye were about six of the old and frail. Sad really that they were used to stage such a publicity charade. Nitschke loved it –and the softy softy treatment which followed on the Late Late show.
Some people will do anything for celebrity!
For the third consecutive year we took part in the Lent for Life campaign, which focused on activism. Plenty of people offered their time for different tasks and one of the main arms of the campaign was the vigil outside one of Ireland’s abortion referral agencies. During the 40 days, people put in 180 hours at the doors of this place offering a better alternative to women. Empathy, understanding, and a helping hand.
On the final day a post-abortive mother laid 8 roses at the clinic. Seven of the roses had the names of seven aborted babies whose regretful mothers had contacted us wanting to commemorate them in some way. The final rose was for the anonymous children who never get named.
The Lenten period also coincided with a few activities and events such as:
We assisted the Life Society in Galway to host a commemorative display and memorial service for Irish victims of abortion: the unborn who are killed and their mothers.
And a few other punks hopped over to Brussels to go to the 2nd Belgian March for Life. Just one of the fairly cool things about this was that they used our “You Me Everybody” image in their main banner and main promotional material.
The organizers of the Belgian March for Life, Generation Puor La Vie, have a lot in common with YD. A bunch of students who thought they should take a lead in standing up against abortion and just went ahead and did it with a lot of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. It was great to share some of our experience with them.
Later in the year, a long term champion of the YD Dublin office, Kathy, went to live in Brussels so she could help out Generation Puor La Vie. Translating materials into French and Dutch and leading the way in the front line strategy, Kathy has been a savage help to this new and engaging group.
See photos from the Belgian March for Life
2011 was a year of seismic change in politics. FF was ousted emphatically and most of their old guard jumped what was obviously a terminally leaky vessel. In a very un-radical move the voters flocked to FG and Labour in a transient eddying fashion. Labour felt on top of the world in November 2010 at 27% and felt like they would be majority government party if not the sole party. “Gilmore for Taoiseach” was the watch cry.
That message resurged in the final weeks of election 2011, but the confidence was drained from it and it was widely scoffed at as a desperate plea to convince the public of their serious intention, and not a serious prediction. Labour were losing the floating vote quicker than they could airbrush the Eamon Gilmore for Taoiseach posters.
Ok so there is the fact that despite their protestations they are not really different to the established main parties on economic issues -and Eamo’s blustering bravado when telling “Frankfurt” to go stuff itself didn’t fool anyone - but the fact remains that they dropped all the way to 19% come the election.
Well one factor was their unequivocal support for legislating to implement the ECHR’s ABC ruling. On January 4th, Eamo told RTÉ's News at One that he would introduce abortion on “life and health” grounds. Well there’s a surprise, Labour wanted to open the floodgates on abortion.
“Woa there a minute, instead of taking instructions from a crowd who have no authority in Ireland” said YD and their cohorts, “Why don’t you ask the people what they think”.
Labour sniffed but with a measure of wariness [we like to think]. Reporters were astonished to hear that abortion was an issue on doorsteps. Labour were probably not too sanguine in hearing that YD were educating to make that an issue. Voters all over the country had been talking to YD and co. and had read our 'Ask the Question' leaflets.
“Headwreckers,” Labour muttered.
They also said it wasn’t fair, but it didn’t help.
Also on the election front former MEPs Dana Rosemary Scallon and Kathy Sinnott led more than 30 pro-life and cross community groups, including YD, Life Institute, Precious Life and SPUC, in a high-profile press conference which called on the parties to pledge that they would ban abortion. FF and FG jumped to reassure all that they thought abortion, and embryo research, was totally un-cool. We don’t know if Labour jumped in any way but we know their voters did (sic).
The main gist of this “Ask the Question” campaign by the way was a four step thingumy. To ask the candidate to give a guarantee they would make sure abortion would not be legalized; email or call them if they didn’t come to the door; spread the word; and get the bumper sticker. Simple stuff!
On Paddy’s day a couple of YD folk appeared on an America chat show named 'Life on the Rock’ It was the usual craic, celebrities wheeling on and off the sofa, looking gorgeous and talking gossip and other useless stuff, while the watching millions watch with baited breath and wonder where they got their fantastic clobber. We got them in Penny’s and Arnott’s but that’s neither here nor there, the important thing is that a few million extra people know a little bit more about Ireland and are now au-fait with YD.
See some photos of programme here...
On July 2 a carnival atmosphere was noted on the streets of the capital as 7000 people took part in the Rally for Life. There was open top buses - one of which had a live band playing on it - millions of posters and smiley face placards and stickers, face painting and balloons for the kids –and a display of their artwork which had been submitted to the Art4Life children’s art competition- and what the pirate radio show hosts used to call “a kikin dance vibe.”
Yeah, it was all colour co-ordinated and stuff, but people actually seem to like that. Note the numbers which had nearly doubled on the previous two years rallies – which were held in Belfast and Dublin respectively. Somebody seems to be doing something right – probably the band have a massive local following!
The “Rally for Choice” (a supporting act of around 200 headers) also showed up for some mid afternoon entertainment. This group of contortionists and theatre props brought the themes of outlandish spectacle and insane diatribe into the mix to make sure there was something for all tastes. Keep it up guys your outlandish chirruping always adds a fringe-show diversion to the day. If you didn’t come you would be sorely missed.
Anyway the rally went from the Garden of Remembrance to the Dáil where everyone hung around, danced a bit, got in the way of traffic, and went home.
See photos from the Rally here...
Shortly after the Rally the Roadshow set of on its annual meandering route through Ireland. Loads of volunteers; did three towns in Kerry in one day (better than Bonny and Clyde); and headed off a rumoured pro-abortion picket in Cork.
The Cork thing we don’t know about. We heard on the grape-vine that some head-cases were going to picket our street session. It never happened. So either it was drunk-talk or some other wild imaginings; or they came and felt the good vibes and observed the large and good humoured contingent and slinked home in embarrassment. Either way we ne’er met nor heard whisper of.
The streets were busy, but so were the airwaves. There is a new breed of Youth defenders about who believe in saturated publicity campaigns (some fancy baloney we learned in college) and they were working goodo at making good of the limelight by getting on every bigshot or huckster radio show who would have us. That included the radio metropolii of Kerry, Limerick, Louth, and Kilkenny. On local radio in Kilkenny our spokes-cailín explained the concerns we have with the government’s planned expert committee on abortion to local Fine Gael TD, JP Phelan. And he just came in to talk about horse racing. Well he wasn’t expecting that!
Appropriately Viva Le Vida, which has now become a yearly extravaganza, happened in Spain in 2011. World Youth Day was taking off in Madrid in August and YD decided to crash the party with a pro-life activist conference. We sauntered over with a posse of fifty and soon had 600 in our train (that’s how many attended the conference.) It was no freak accident though, we rang around and advertised the whole shindig ages beforehand.
While we were there we did some pretty cool things including saving a baby from the jaws of an abortion clinic.
That was a seminal moment in a young couples’ life where a fluent Spanish speaker was on hand to offer an alternative with a measure of hope. They felt they didn’t have an option but we put them in touch with the crisis pregnancy chaps who could actually reveal the support and options that were open to them, and they were way happier with that.
A short while after the Madrid knees-up Eoghan, our beloved chair-person, was off to Germany speaking at the Berlin March for Life. And in the following months YD speakers turned up [to speak] at a debate in UL, pro-life meetings in Cork and Galway, a conference in London and a conference in Los Angeles. We also kept busy at home by paying visits to Waterford and Maynooth for street sessions and campus info sessions respectively.
See photos of the Conference here...
October 18 was denoted as Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity. A day when people in 57 countries worldwide remained publicly silent in support of those denied a voice. Incredibly the biggest babbler in YD, a full time talk machine, remained silent for the whole day. Dan, who had been waiting three years to get a word in, was also silent, and thought that that was just typical.
And the Rookie of the year award goes to Stephen Brady who not only kicked ass in the Madrid flashmob, but also kicked some debating ass in the UL debating society’s debate on abortion.
A fresher - just in the door a few weeks - he took the stage and wreaked havoc on the opposition. His sucker punch, delivered with an easy grace, was that if the pro-abortion lobby really cared about women, then they would be pro-life. I know it sounds infuriatingly simplistic but it’s still true. He wasn’t very popular from the far side of the podium and somebody from that direction said something like “smartass”
And website of the year goes to the seriously cool and uber-interactive lifezone.ie the second generation of truthtv.org. Truthtv; you were good in your day, but times change and there comes a time when you have to step aside and let the new technology shine. It’s a fast moving world out there baby.
And turn around of the year goes to the constituency office of Mick Wallace. The Wexford TD called for abortion to be legalised in the Dáil under the mandate of six European countries including, England and Denmark but not including Ireland, or even his constituency of Wexford. When the Life Institute and YD highlighted it, his office received a geansaí-load of calls. At first they said “yeah so what” but by the second day they said he only meant it in the case of suicide.
Ok so they haven’t really read the research on this particular subject because if they did they wouldn’t be making that claim. Bizarrely enough they also said that Mick was only standing up for democracy. Sooo, this would be the type of democracy which acts for a selection of committees in other countries and not the people of the country concerned? Hmmmmm, sure, right!
And cute video of the year goes to the YD Christmas video which was revealed publicly on O’Connell Street to a busy Christmas shopping crowd on December 10th. The theme was the Christmas story which was accompanied by the ever so cute singing of a three year old giving her version of twinkle, twinkle, little star.
The occasion was the YD Christmas vigil. A candle lit festive affair which marks the real meaning of Christmas. As well as the usual crowd who regularly like to turn out to support these visible witnesses for life, we had a number of new faces who came along after hearing about it on facebook. Nice to see it working!
And good web use story of the year: With over 300,000 Youtube views of our videos in 2011, and hundreds of thousands of unique views of the various websites it is clear that the message is getting out there. But what effect it is all having? Well one story in 2011 was of a young woman who felt pressured into having an abortion (marriage coming up etc). Her friend emailed the YD office and asked for some help in a hurry. Whilst we were mustering up the cavalry she came back to us and told us she had directed the friend to the lifezone site, and it had convinced her that a baby wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all. Yayyy!
See photos of the Vigil here...