No point in saving economy if child's right to life compromised, says Harte

Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte told thousands attending Saturday’s “Unite for Life Vigil” in Dublin he was “most concerned…

Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte told thousands attending Saturday’s “Unite for Life Vigil” in Dublin he was “most concerned that this Government proposes to legislate for abortion”.

There was, he said “no issue more important than the protection of human life. There’s no point in saving the economy if a child’s right to life is compromised or forgotten”.

Introduced by Dr Eoghan de Faoite of Youth Defence as “the most successful Tyrone manager of all time, GAA hero and all- round Irish statesman”, Mr Harte continued: “our political leaders must not give in to the inclination to be pragmatic”.

During the vigil at Merrion Square, speakers disputed media reports that there were 10,000 people present and quoted gardaí as putting it at 25,000. A later statement from the Pro Life Campaign said “well over 20,000” were there. The vigil was organised by the Pro Life Campaign, Youth Defence, Family Life, the Life Institute, Precious Life, and Women Hurt .

Caroline Simons of the Pro Life Campaign noted that psychiatrists who spoke at recent Oireachtas committee hearings on abortion legislation, “to a man and a woman, said that abortion never addresses suicidality in pregnancy and that they had never prescribed it”.

‘Most basic right’

It meant, she said, that if the Government legislated for the Supreme Court X case ruling it would have “violated the most basic right of all, for a reason which is no reason at all”.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute said they were there “to tell Fine Gael that we are the pro-life majority, and that we will not accept abortion, not now, not ever, not in our country and not in our name.”

What was happening was “mostly at the behest of the Labour Party”, she said. Labour were now “the cheerleaders for abortion in Ireland”.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: James Connolly must be turning in his grave.”

David Manly of Family Life criticised “the very rushed and very unfair [Oireachtas] hearing last week”, while Bernadette Smyth of Precious Life said the Marie Stopes clinic in Belfast had been opened “right across from the railway station so it could murder Irish babies”.

If abortion “was legalised in the Republic it will be legalised in all of Ireland. We must fight to keep all of Ireland abortion-free,” she said.

Bernadette Goulding of Women Hurt spoke of having an abortion, which “left a pain that nothing will heal”.

It was “like a death in the family”, she said, and accused the media of ignoring women like her. Caitríona Curran said protesters were there to fight for “a human rights issue on behalf of the smallest and most voiceless”.

Clergy presence

Among Catholic clergy present were Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary, Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce, Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones, Msgr Gearóid Dullea, secretary to the Bishops’ Conference, and Fr Tim Bartlett, assistant to Cardinal Seán Brady.

Oireachtas members there included Fine Gael TD Terence Flanagan, Senators Labhrás Ó Murchú and Ronan Mullen.

Buses on Merrion Street, which brought many to the vigil, had Northern, Cork, Kerry, Sligo, Donegal, Laois, Kilkenny and Waterford registrations.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin attended an overcrowded ‘Vigil of Prayer for Life’ at St Andrews Church on Westland Row before the rally. He remarked, “one of the largest churches in Dublin, it’s good to see it full.”Archbishop Neary led a similar prayer vigil at the University Church on Stephen’s Green when the rally at Merrion Square concluded.