-- Catholic News Agency
Crowds At Irish Rally Show Country's Pro-life Legacy
DUBLIN, IRELAND, January 20 (CNA) .- Fine Gael, the majority party in the Irish coalition government, will have "awoken a sleeping giant" if they move to legalize abortion, say organizers of a massive pro-life vigil.
Unofficial observers estimated numbers in excess of 35,000 people, which packed Dublin's city center in the largest pro-life rally ever seen in Ireland to oppose government plans to legalize abortion.
The government has said it will move to introduce abortion on suicide grounds, sparking widespread concern and protests from the strongly pro-life nation.
The Vigil for Life, which was organized in just three weeks saw tens of thousands of people converge from all over Ireland, into Dublin's Merrion Square, with police estimates at 30,000 while unofficial tallies suggest some 50,000 attended.
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute, a key organizer of the Vigil, said that "the government had no mandate to legalize abortion, or to ignore the expert evidence which tells them that abortion is never a treatment for suicide."
She reminded the huge crowd that Fine Gael had given a commitment not to legalize abortion in Election 2011.
She said that, "Fine Gael are pressing to legalize the direct and intentional killing of children on the grounds of suicide" and that "we are here to remind them that votes are transferable things - because on the issue of abortion the people are not for turning."
"If Fine Gael don't protect life, they will truly have awoken a sleeping giant. They will have crossed the line for the pro-life majority. And today we pledge to Fine Gael that if they break their pro-life promise they will never get our votes again," she said to applause and cheering.
The pro-life spokeswoman told the crowd that the British David Steele, who is described as the architect of the British Abortion Act recently said, "I never envisaged there would be so many abortions."
"Is that what Fine Gael want? To be the party that looks back and says,'We never envisaged there would be so many abortions'?" she asked.
She urged Fine Gael to take the opportunity to do the right thing. "To stand with the people, to stand for mothers and babies, to have the courage to stand on the world stage, and be leaders in protecting human life."
Youth Defence, one of Ireland leading pro-life groups, called the Taoiseach's (Prime Minister) constituency office live from the Vigil.
The massive pro-life event went quiet as Dr Eoghan de Faoite of Youth Defence called an Taoiseach's constituency office, and Enda's voice could be heard asking the caller to leave a message.
"Hello an Taoiseach, this is the Vigil for Life, and I have 30,000 people here to give you a reminder of the pro-life promise you made in 2011," said Dr de Faoite.
To which the 30,000 strong crowd chorused "Enda, Keep Your Promise." The phone call followed more than an hour of speakers, crowd participation, and pro-life messaging at the Vigil.
The Vigil heard from one of Ireland's leading sports figures, Tyrone Gaelic Athletic Association county manager, Mickey Harte who said "I speak to you as an ordinary person, a citizen, a husband, a father. I come from a sporting background, as you know, and I am proud of our sporting traditions."
"But there is no tradition of which I am prouder than the respect for both women and their unborn children that has been the hallmark of our medical services in Ireland," he said. "Ireland, without abortion, is one of the safest countries in the world for a woman to be pregnant."
"There is no issue more important than the protection of human life. There's no point saving an economy if a child's right to life is compromised or forgotten," said the popular sports manager.
"The Vigil has been a tremendously powerful and historic event, and the voice of the majority has been heard for the protection of both mother and baby," said Eoghan de Faoite.
"We've reminded Fine Gael that abortion is not a treatment for suicide, and that the government needs to look at the evidence given before the Oireachtas Committee which confirms that fact," the Youth Defence spokesman said.
He added that the ban on abortion had made Ireland a safe place for both mothers and babies and that was something worth protecting.
A pro-life pledge which aims to sign up 100,000 people who say they will never vote for Fine Gael again if abortion is legalized, was also launched at the Vigil.
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