At least 70,000 people took part in the All Ireland Rally for Life on Saturday.
The theme of this year’s march was “Save the 8th” – and record numbers turned out to defend the amendment to the Irish constitution, which defends the equal right to life of the mother and unborn baby.
The rally takes place every year, and alternates between Dublin and Belfast. 2017’s rally, in Dublin, is expected to be the last before the referendum on the amendment, recently announced by new Taoiseach Leo Varankar, takes place.
We will Save the 8th
“This is an incredible, powerful day, when massive crowds of ordinary people turned out to Save the 8th, to say no to abortion and yes to Life, to tell Leo Varadkar that he would lose this referendum on abortion, because the pro-life majority has arisen and will work night and day to Save the 8th,” said Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute. “We were expecting 50,000 but as the Rally moved through Dublin City, up to 80,000 people brought the city to a standstill as they joined in to Save the 8th.”
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Too big to ignore
Like many pro-life marches, the media tried to downplay numbers, and some outlets tried to reduce it to “Pro Life and Pro Choice groups take part in opposing rallies in Dublin”. However, this year’s rally was so big that it was difficult to ignore. Outlets were forced to issue corrections acknowledging the numbers, and the Irish Independent conceded that “the pro-choice campaigners were significantly outnumbered”. RTE, the national broadcaster, covered the rally in an unusually balanced news segment. Scroll down to watch the video!
The Irish Times said the police had estimated the numbers as “between 10,000 and 20,000”. However, according to the Rally for Life, the Garda press office never gave any such figure. The highest figure given for the pro-choice demonstration is 200.
The loudest cheers of the day were for Karen Gaffney, a leading international advocate for people with Down Syndrome who urged the crowd to Save the 8th to protect the right to life of “people like me”, and warned that in other countries, aggressive screening programs mean that up to 100% of people with Down Syndrome are being aborted. “We want to belong, don’t screen us out,” she said.
Vicky Wall from Every Life Counts moved many to tears as she spoke movingly about her daughter Líadán who was diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, Trisomy 18. “Liádán’s life was protected by the 8th amendment, she was given the respect as our daughter. Even though she had a life-limiting condition, she was loved and valued as much as her brother and sister. All she know was love.”
Other speakers included Carolyn O’Meara of Giannacare, Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life, Becky Kealy of Youth Defence and Isabel Vaughan-Spruce of March for Life UK.
The Rally for Life is organised by Life Institute, Youth Defence and Precious Life and is the biggest pro-life event held in the country every year.