DUBLIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - The 10th annual All-Ireland Rally for Life is aiming to stop the spread of abortion in the country. Set for Saturday, July 1, the event is expected to draw 50,000 of Irish citizens concerned about the increasing pressure to lift restrictions on abortion, legalized for the first time in the nation's history in 2013.
Church Militant spoke with Niamh Ui Bhriain, spokeswoman for Life Institute, which is organizing the Rally for Life. Ui Bhriain explains that the rally has become the largest pro-life event in Ireland each year, asserting "tens of thousands of people gather every year to celebrate life and to say that a compassionate society would demand a better answer than abortion for mothers and babies."
Ui Bhriain remarked that this rally is more urgent than ever. "This is the pro-life majority in action," she said, and it has the objective to "send a clear, pro-life message to the government and the nation."
She is estimating as many as 50,000 will march this year. "To put that in perspective, that's like getting four million people out in the U.S.," she clarified, comparing the ratio of the population in Ireland and the United States.
Rally supporters want a big showing to dispel the false notion that most of the country supports abortion. According to Ui Bhriain, the Irish media is "extraordinarily biased," cand "many journalists in the mainstream media are active campaigners for abortion."
She points to a three-year study of The Irish Times that found that 91 percent of the articles published have a pro-abortion slant.
Another instance of media bias, Ui Bhriain noted, was the highly publicized case of a young woman allegedly being locked up in a mental institution for trying to get an abortion. It was later revealed to be fake news.
Ireland's first openly gay prime minister, Leo Varadkar, recently announced he'll be calling a referendum in 2018 to repeal Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which bans abortion. Ui Bhriain says "the decision to hold a referendum is entirely political and supported by media pressure," pointing to a recent opinion poll that showed that most of Ireland is pro-life. Only 28 percent think abortion should be legalized.
Rally organizers also want to continue the shift away from public support for abortion on the grounds of disability. In a press release, they're claiming people with disabilities and their families speaking out publicly has reduced public support of aborting the disabled to 36 percent, down from 61 percent in January 2016.
Speaking at the rally will be Karen Gaffney, an international speaker and the first person with Down Syndrome to receive an honorary doctorate. Gaffney spoke at a Ted Talk in Portland, Oregon, saying, "Imagine that here we are reversing the damage caused by institutions, removing barriers to education, making inroads into a full and inclusive life for people like me, and still we have those who say we shouldn't even be born at all."
Other speakers include Vicky Wall from Every Life Counts, who is the mother of a baby with a life-limiting condition, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, the director for March for Life U.K. and Declan Ganley, a sovereignty campaigner.
The rally will take place on Saturday, July 1, and is billed as a family-friendly event, featuring face-painting and music. Ui Bhriain notes that the event is open to people of all faiths. Dublin's Abp. Diarmuid Martin is planning to offer Mass before the rally.