A crowd of approximately 35,000 people marched in Dublin this afternoon as part of the anti-abortion Rally for Life.
The rally began in O’Connell Street at 2pm and was followed by a march to Leinster House.
Organisers of the march are claiming that up to 80,000 people participated but a Garda spokeswoman put the number at 35,000.
The rally comes five days before the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is expected to be passed in the Dáil. A huge garda operation was in place as the protesters walked by pro-choice demonstrators who had lined some of the route along O’Connell Street.
The rally was addressed by a number of speakers including Libertas founder Declan Ganley and Niamh Ui Bhriain of the Life Institute .Speaking to the crowd outside the Dáil, Declan Ganley called for a vote on the issue. “Let those senators and TDs use the power granted to them under Article 27 of the Constitution to let the people speak on this bill. Give us a referendum and let us vote” he said.
Deputy chair of the Pro-Life Campaign Cora Sherlock said those attending the rally are motivated.
“The atmosphere is fantastic. Looking around at the people here I can see how motivated and and driven they are and no matter what happens at the next vote, these people will not go away,” she said.
“There are people here from all over Ireland and there’s a great cross-section of society. I hope TDs take note of the crowd here today.”
Ms Sherlock also disputed Garda figures, saying there are a lot more people attending.
“I’ve been to a lot of these kind of events and I really think there are at least 50,000 people here. Probably more.”
Among the crowd were a group of approximately 30 people from the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the US.
Earlier Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the Christian message is one which respects life and respects every human life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.
In a homily delivered during Mass in Church of St Dominick, Dublin, earlier today the Archbishop said: “It respects the life of the unborn; it cherishes and wishes to protect the lives of mothers and mothers to be”.
“Being Pro-Life is not about a slogan or a mantra,” he said “It is about being someone who searches for the foundations of the deepest meaning of life and the roots of hope.”
A small pro-choice counter-demonstration was also held at the Spire on O’Connell Street today.
A number of streets were closed due to the protests including O'Connell Street and Parnell Square East and Kildare Street. Dublin Bus changed some of its routes to avoid the protest.
Additional reporting PA