A GROUP OF over 50 pro-life supporters who claim to be “progressive, republican and of the left” held a rally outside the GPO this afternoon in favour of the Eighth Amendment.
The group called Cherish All the Children Equally chose the location on the 102nd anniversary of the Easter Rising and argued that the ideals of the Proclamation extend to protecting the life of the unborn.
Several speakers addressed the event. Former Derry Sinn Féin councillor Anne Brolly called the issue “the most important human rights debate of our generation” and called on supporters of the Eighth Amendment to “get active and join the rebellion”.
Aside from the main speakers at the event, other supporters in the crowd spoke of having met like-minded pro-life people while at Right2Water protests.
“I believe in the sovereignty of Ireland, by the Dáil, by our courts and if we can’t protect our babies we can’t protect anything,” says Michael Burke from Dublin.
Burke, who is formerly of the Defence Forces, says he is a nationalist and complains about the media’s coverage of abortion.
Asked if he feels marginalised being left-leaning and being pro-life, Burke argues that left-wing parties are at least honest about their stance.
“There is no debate. It’s not just the left, it’s the Fianna Fáilers, the Fine Gaelers,” he says.
“At least People Before Profit say they’re for abortion on demand. They say it, but the other people are using it as well. They’re the outlanders and the Fianna Fáilers and Fine Gaelers want the same thing as them. They just don’t have the guts to stay it.”
Burke is with two others, Linda Fahy and Proinsias Ó Chonaráin, and he says they’ve been canvassing for a No vote.
When we do canvass on the northside, most people are pro-life, the ones we get knocking on doors. We do it every second day and they’re pro-life, but you’re not hearing that. And Shinners are telling me that they’re split down the middle.
The displeasure with Sinn Féin’s stance was one that was shared by many of those at the event.
The party is campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum and its official position has been liberalised in recent years.
Ó Chonaráin was a former member of the party and feels their position is “a disgrace”.
“Sinn Féin, allegedly a republican party, is an absolute disgrace,” he says.
They are going to murder our future generations after fighting for generations to protect the Irish people. Now they’re in a situation where they’re going to murder our future generations and have no compulsion about it.
“I’m an ex-Sinn Féin member and I’ll never ever give them the time of day again in my life. Pearse and Connolly and the men and women of 1916 died for all of us. They didn’t die for a certain section.”
Asked by TheJournal.ie about the use of the Proclamation and Irish self-determination when thousands of women travel to England to avail of abortion services, Ó Chonaráin said he didn’t feel there was a contradiction.
No because if you’re going to go down that road then why don’t you legalise cannabis, ecstasy or cocaine? We’re exporting that problem as well. And if you’re talking about compassion, there’s people on drugs. Why don’t we legalise and stop them buying off drug dealers?
“Just because someone is doing something illegal, you don’t just legalise it and make it easier for them. To murder a baby, in my estimation is wrong, and you can’t legalise it,” he adds.
Ó Chonaráin is a former Anti-Austerity Alliance local election candidate and ran on an Independent anti-water charges platform in the 2016 general election.
He says that people will not trust politicians in legislating for abortion:
Ask any person at the doors do they trust the politicians, 99.9% of people say they do not trust politicians. So why are they going to give them this power to legislate for the future of our children?
Of the three, Fahy was the most reluctant to speak publicly but agreed to do so and said that she felt “unborn babies should have a voice”.
“I think there’s a lot of misinformation given to the public and we find knocking on doors that people don’t understand what it’s about. The whole idea is to confuse people and then the government is trying to corrupt people into saying Yes. And once they have a Yes they can do whatever they like,” she says.
Fahy is also from Dublin and we asked her if the Eighth Amendment affects working class women even more because they may not have the means to travel to England for an abortion.
She says that abortion is not the answer for working class women who find themselves with a crisis pregnancy.
“They should be more support for women who find themselves pregnant,” she argues.
The support is not there, supports are not in place, they should be in place with social services. So that anybody who is pregnant can go to someone and talk it through and think about it. Because if the referendum goes through it’s going to be ‘do you want an abortion?’