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Repeal protests attract thousands to the streets of Dublin

Similar demonstrations were staged in other cities around Ireland.
Mar 8th 2017, 8:00 PM 53,679 251

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Updated 8pm

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE attended two separate protests in Dublin today, calling for the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution to be repealed.

Earlier this afternoon, O’Connell Bridge was blocked after hundreds of demonstrators marched for the Strike4Repeal protest. This evening, the March4Repeal attracted thousands who marched from Parnell Square to the gates of Leinster House.

Similar demonstrations were staged in other cities around Ireland, calling for action on the abortion issue and critiquing what organisers described as “the Irish State’s abysmal track record in affording adequate, humane and dignified reproductive healthcare”.

The protest this evening

Thousands were in attendance as March4Repeal came to Leinster House this evening.

It started in Parnell Square with participants making their way down O’Connell Street, around by the front of Trinity College, finally making their way down Kildare Street.

PRO CHOICE Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Once they reached Leinster House, there were reports of some minor verbal confrontations between pro-choice and pro-life protestors, who were also in attendance.

PRO CHOICE Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

PRO CHOICE Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

pro choice Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Large crowds could be seen gathering in pictures and videos shared on social media. There were several speakers at the event, including activist Ailbhe Smyth from the Repeal Eight group.

There was no independently verified figure on the total number participating in the March4Repeal.

Organisers claimed it was in the region of 10,000 people but a garda spokesperson was unable to confirm the exact figure.

What about the protest earlier this afternoon?

The Strike4Repeal Dublin event began with a procession to several government departments this morning, including the Department of Justice, the Department of An Taoiseach and the Department of Health.

Protesters, mostly dressed in black, and holding signs with slogans including ‘we will persist, we will insist’ and ‘no uterus no opinion’.

A group of women at the protest said that the march was important to let people who were too scared to speak out about their personal experiences.

“It’s clearly the will of the people because it’s people it affects,” a protester holding a sign with a giant white lightning bolt said.

A group of 16-year-olds said they had walked out of their secondary school in Greystones, Co Wicklow to attend the march today.

They said they felt compelled to attend the march because the issue was clear to them, and it seemed ‘anti-humanitarian to deny women the freedom to choose abortion’.

“If we were raped, we wouldn’t have that choice,” one girl said.

“And if we had an abortion we could be convicted for it for 14 years – that’s nearly our whole lives!” said another.

They said that the fact that they can’t vote yet, made this protest important, saying that it was “liberating”.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

A van driver who had been blocked in a driveway and surrounded by protesters played on his phone. When asked whether he was going to be late, he said “I’m just driving home from Roscommon”.

When told that he got a front row seat for the protest, he laughed saying he’d already shared it to Facebook, and enjoyed the music (or chanting).

When asked if he supports the protesters, he says “how could you not?”

IMAG3071 Source: TheJournal.ie/Gráinne Ní Aodha

Kirsty spent ages making this sign.

She says that’s she’s out here protesting because “every woman deserves a choice”.

“No one makes the decision lightheartedly. Every woman should be provided with care by their own state.”

When asked about what she thought of waiting for the outcome of the Citizen’s Assembly, she said it was a “good idea in theory,” but that it was just another way to prolong the issue further.

“It’s just going to get stuck in the Houses of the Oireachtas,” she said.

She said she’d taken the day off work today to go to the protest, and that a group of her friends, who were scattered throughout the crowd had too.

IMAG3080 Source: TheJournal.ie/Gráinne Ní Aodha

O’Connell Street

The protest culminated with the large-scale protest on both sides of O’Connell Bridge at around 12.30, blocking several main routes through the city and along the quays and causing traffic gridlock.

There were significant tailbacks on the north and south sides of the Liffey.

At one point an ambulance under siren was delayed as it made its way through traffic on the north quays. Asked about the emergency vehicle being delayed, one of the event’s organisers at the scene said “it got through”.

In response to a query about traffic management, a garda spokesperson said “An Garda Síochána facilitate and indeed welcome peaceful protests”.

“Gardaí are in contact with the organisers to facilitate the free movement of emergency services through the city centre.

A Garda Traffic Management plan, including diversions, is in operation for the duration of the protest.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Members of the anti-abortion Pro Life Campaign held what they described as an awareness event to mark International Women’s Day at the Central Bank on Dame Street at lunchtime.

Spokesperson for the group Cora Sherlock and some supporters spoke to reporters. A vehicle bearing a poster with the slogan “The 8th Amendment Saves Lives” was displayed.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Sherlock said that their event was much smaller as they haven’t been preparing it for weeks like the Strike4Repeal movement did.

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha and Sean Murray

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