Sunday 23 November 2014

Anger on the streets as rival abortion groups rally at GPO

Pro-life and pro-choice organisations demand change of existing legislation

Niamh Horan 
and Wayne O' Connor

Published 24/08/2014 | 02:30

Niamh Ui Bhrian of The life Institute (centre) at the Pro Life march on O'Connell Street yesterday.
Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2014
Niamh Ui Bhrian of The life Institute (centre) at the Pro Life march on O'Connell Street yesterday. Photo: Tony Gavin 23/8/2014
Protestors at a pro-choice march
A vigil held by the Pro Life Campaign outside the Dail in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron

two opposing protests took place in Dublin yesterday with thousands attending separate pro-life and pro-choice rallies.

Over 1,000 pro-choice supporters marched from the GPO demanding the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

At another rally, also on O'Connell Street, the pro-life movement attracted more than 500 people to their gathering which later marched on to the offices of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA)

The pro-choice protest was led by a group calling itself ROSA - Reproductive Rights Against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity.

They were led by an escort of gardai on foot and on motorcycles as the group chanted, "our bodies, our rights." as they marched from O'Connell Street and over Rosie Hackett bridge to the Department of Health.

Some mothers carried babies. Others had badges pinned with the message, "my body is not a vessel," a reference to a recent scathing UN report on Ireland.

"Honestly? What does Ireland look like to people from abroad?" asked Christ de Gier a tourist from Holland.

"It seems old fashioned and archaic. It all looks very odd to us," he added.

Dr Ross Kelly from Doctors for Choice told the crowd: "Fifteen women in Ireland travel abroad every day for an abortion. Most will never talk to an Irish medical professional because the laws in this country are inherently judgemental and apply shame to these women."

Ruth Coppinger TD issued a strident message against the Catholic Church: "Your time has gone. Your time was the Magdalene laundries, the mother and baby homes and symphysiotomy, when 
women in childbirth had their pelvises broken. This is our time now."

"Joan Burton and other politicians built their careers on the back of Mary Robinson's election and allegedly progressing women's rights. Your silence is shameful," she said to cheers. But as that protest reached the Dail, a 500 strong pro-life rally headed towards at the IFPA headquarters.

They voiced their dismay at the treatment of the baby at the centre of the abortion scandal. Carrying balloons and white roses they called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to look at the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act that was passed in the Dail last year, saying that it has failed at the first hurdle and should be scrapped.

One of the organisers of the march Niamh Ui Bhriain of the Life Institute said: "We are here to hold a vigil of hope for a baby who has been left fighting for his life because of Enda Kenny's abortion act. We are sending out a message of support to every baby and mother in crisis because clearly this Act has failed both in this instance."

Pro-life activist Ide Nic Mhathuna said that she felt the need to get involved in the march as she was "disgusted at the clamour for the death of the child" at the centre of the recent abortion outrage.

"There are so many things that are wrong with this case. It is flabbergasting. The IFPA did not refer the woman for proper psychiatric care like they should have done. They completely neglected her," she said.

Sunday Independent

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