Vigil expertly stage-managed but perhaps overproduced
A barrier was placed across the road at the other end, presumably to stop people wandering into the path of oncoming traffic. But it also gave the stewards a chance to police those joining the vigil. Home-made placards and banners were not allowed into the demonstration.
A small group of disgruntled men stood outside the barrier. Forbidden signs which they were carrying included some large “Abortion Kills” placards, along with one reading “Which of your grandchildren will be a Fine Gael baby?”, and another saying “men abandon, women abort, State abrogates – thou shalt not kill”.
We asked why, given it was a public protest, people were not allowed to join in with their own banners. “There are four or five signs that have been agreed, and it’s been agreed by the right-to-life committee and that’s it. There are no unauthorised signs allowed,” said the steward, who declined to give his name.
Inside the barrier, in two small marquees, volunteers handed out thousands of candles in paper holders and distributed placards and pledge packs. There were stacks upon stacks of high-quality glossy posters and people were urged to take one.
The pledge pack contained five leaflets and a prepaid envelope, addressed to the Life Institute. One leaflet began: “If Fine Gael legalise abortion and break the pro-life promise it made in election 2011, I pledge the party will never get my vote again.”
The posters had two main themes. The first was “Love them Both” and featured a mother cuddling a baby, and the second was aimed squarely at Fine Gael. It made for a very impressive display when the protesters held them in the air. “Raise your banners and point to the cherry picker,” Eoghan de Faoite urged them, pointing to the camera overhead.
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute got a huge ovation when she spoke. “Hello Dublin and every other country that’s here today!” she began, adding to the showbizzy feel.
“We are the pro-life majority and we will not accept abortion – not now, not ever, not in our country and not in our name.”
When the crowd finally dispersed, the buses were lined up and waiting. An impressive evening’s work, brilliantly orchestrated and clearly lavishly resourced. But perhaps overproduced: all the money in the world can’t buy edge or spontaneity.