Up to 50,000 pro-life supporters in Dublin march
Up to 50,000 pro-life supporters marched on Leinster House today in the first public protest since the expulsion of four Fine Gael deputies who failed to support the Government's abortion legislation.
The rally heard repeated calls for the Government to once again put the issue of abortion to the people in another referendum.
A large force of gardai were deployed on Dublin's O'Connell Street as the pro life march ran the gauntlet of some 400 pro-choice supporters who lined both sides of the street near the Spire monument.
Though both groups exchanged slogans and some insults there were no real clashes and no arrests.
Today's rally was the third major gathering in recent months and probably the largest.
The 'All-Ireland Rally for Life' was addressed by a number of speakers including the founder of the Libertas movement Declan Ganley and Niamh Ui Bhriain of the Life Institute as well as representatives of Youth Defence.
Pro-life groups from all over the country were represented at the march with an initial gathering stretching across two sides of Parnell Square but that number swelled at the rally in Kildare Street - outside the Dail.
Mr Ganley called on the government to put the issue of abortion to the people in a referendum.
And he said the Taoiseach had made a grave error in breaking his promise.
"This Taoiseach has lost his way in the most fundamental way. He has broken a promise about something more than money or power – he has broken his promise on human life itself," he declared.
He said that "good men and women are being thrown from Fine Gael for voting exactly as they said they would before the last election."
The Libertas founder who now appears intent on forming a new political party to challenge in next year's local and European elections said one of the reasons he wanted to speak at the rally was because abortion was deeply personal to him.
While gardai on the ground said the crowd was in excess of 50,000, the organisers of the rally claimed that 60,000 had attended, saying that people were still marching past the GPO at the same time Kildare Street was already packed and the rally and speeches were underway.
As the rally drew to a close there was still no official garda estimate.