“It is a testimony to the pro-life tradition of the Province that so many have taken to the streets.”
By SPUC—the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
The pro-life people of Northern Ireland assembled in great numbers over the weekend to protest the imposition of abortion on the Province. Tens of thousands gathered at key venues over two days in a powerful witness to life.
What has changed
On July 9, MPs passed the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act. This act would require the Government to make provision for abortion access if the Stormont executive [the government of Northern Ireland] does not reassemble before October 21. Regulations for abortion would need to in place by March 2020.
No Northern Irish MPs voted in favour of this change.
A Silent Witness
On Friday September 6, thousands met at the gates of Stormont [the location of Parliament] and walked to the Assembly buildings. Once there, they stood in silence holding lights for six minutes, representing the six counties of Northern Ireland. Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster joined the demonstration, organised by a group called NI Voiceless. In their official comment on the demonstration, the organisers write:
‘On Friday 6th September 2019, around 20,000 people of diverse ages, ethnicities and religious and political persuasions from across Northern Ireland stood together in silence at Stormont to declare two things in response:
a) That we, the post-birth people of NI, were not asked about this undemocratic change, which does not reflect public or political opinion here.
b) That they, the pre-birth people of NI, cannot speak in defence of their own right to life and we cannot sit back without standing for them.
… This is a matter of life and death. Together we can be a society where every human life is valued and no human death is chosen.’
March For Their Lives
The very next day, pro-life people gathered again for the annual March For Their Lives, organised by a coalition of pro-life groups. Marchers gathered in Customs House Square, while counter protesters met for the Rally for Choice nearby.
Baroness Nuala O’Loan addressed the rally, putting the onus of recent changes on the inactive Stormont Executive saying, ‘”And to compound all that’s wrong, to bring in abortion, unregulated abortion, up to 28 weeks. Just like that. And then to move to march, to pass a set of regulations, which cannot be debated and amended. That is wrong.”
Precious Life, one of the organisations responsible for organizing the March, stated that they were “heartened and encouraged by the turnout, which showed that the pro-life majority of Northern Ireland are fighting back against this undemocratic law. The pro-life majority of Northern Ireland came out in their thousands today to say loud and clear ‘Abortion? Not In Our Name!’”
A Voice for the Voiceless
John Deighan, Deputy CEO of SPUC, said of the events, ‘Westminster passed the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act without consulting the Northern Irish people and with no respect for devolution. It is a testimony to the pro-life tradition of the Province that so many have taken to the streets. UK politicians have perpetrated a disgraceful injustice on the people of Northern Ireland and on the defenseless children in the womb. We can only hope that the voices of so many united for life can bring politicians to their senses. Stormont needs to be reconvened as soon as possible and ensure that the shocking laws imposed from Westminster are consigned to the political dustbin.’