Video: Protesters vow 'never again' as vigils held across the country
IN the darkness, they chanted with one voice, steady and insistent: "Never again, never again, never again."
They brought scented candles, household votives, and took to the streets of Dublin to express the strength of their anger following the death of Savita Halappanavar.
They were mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, the pregnant, the old and the blind, the native Irish and the new Irish. The only thing they had in common was a shared sense of outrage.
As the crowd assembled outside the Garden of Remembrance at Parnell Square, poet Paula Meehan read a poem she had written following the scandal of teenage mother Ann Lovett, who died after giving birth at a grotto to the Virgin Mary in Granard, Co Longford, in 1984.
"I wrote this in my 20s when I thought things would get better," said Ms Meehan, adding that things had not improved at all, amid roars of agreement.
The protest was organised by an umbrella of pro-choice movements.
Sinead Ahern from Choice Ireland told the crowd that she was "bowled over" by the sight of so many people.
Rebecca Meehan, from Athlone, Co Westmeath, said she'd made a last-minute decision to come out. "You can't complain if you don't take part," she said.
A moment's silence was held outside Leinster House. And afterwards, the chant was taken up once more: "Never again, never again, never again."
Singer Chris de Burgh, who was performing in Austria over the weekend, revealed he would have joined the Irish protesters.
"I wish I could have been in Dublin to join the 20,000 people who marched in a peaceful and dignified way to show respect for Savita," he tweeted.
In Galway, celebrations for Diwali – the calendar highlight for the Indian community – took the form of a heartbroken farewell to Savita. White roses were passed out as candles were lit outside the hospital where she died.
"We just felt we needed to remember her here," said Moushumi Mandal, who organised the event.
An hour later, the people of Galway said their own farewell in Eyre Square. Crowds silently gathered around a photo of the smiling young woman, her name spelt out in candles.
A simple statement was laid out under her picture: 'For Savita, never again.'