20,000 people bring Belfast to a standstill for the 'March for Their Lives'
20,000 people bring Belfast to a standstill for the ‘March for Their Lives’
Belfast city centre was brought to a standstill on Saturday 7th September, as 20,000 people gridlocked the streets for the pro-life ‘March for their Lives.’ The major pro-life event was organised by Precious Life and other pro-life groups to give the people of Northern Ireland an opportunity to voice their opposition Westminster’s abortion law, set to be implemented on 21st October if the Stormont Parliament is not reconvened.
The profoundly undemocratic and extreme abortion legislation was rammed through the Westminster Parliament in July without any public consultation from the people here or their elected representatives. If the legislation comes into force, abortion will be legal in Northern Ireland right up to 7 months of pregnancy (28 weeks gestation), turning Northern Ireland from a safe haven into the abortion capital of Europe. On Saturday, an incredible array of people, both young and old, united in their thousands to send out a powerful, unequivocal message to our politicians, the Westminster Parliament, and indeed the world, that abortion will never be in our name and that we will always stand up and be proud of our pro-life laws.
The theme of the March was ‘Not in our Name’ and Saturday served as a clear confirmation that this abortion law is not in the name of the people here, thousands of whom came out in force to express their frustration and disenchantment at Westminster for its use of Northern Ireland as a Trojan horse to force through full decriminalisation of abortion onto the whole of the UK.
Because the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives have continued to reject the violence of abortion, Northern Ireland is the safest place for mothers and babies in the UK today. Because the people here said no to the Abortion Act in 1967, and again in 2016, countless lives have been saved. Indeed, so many of those saved by our laws attended Saturday’s joy-filled event along with countless women and families who are so grateful they said yes to life.
Prior to the March for Their Lives, Mass took place at St. Patrick’s Church with over 1500 people in attendance. The Mass was celebrated by Fr Paddy McCafferty, an outspoken defender of the unborn from Corpus Christi Parish in West Belfast. Fr McCafferty told the packed Church, “Today we are bearing witness to vital truths about the value of every life, that are foundational to a human society that is truly centred on true human rights.
Continuing his emotional homily, he told the crowds: “Let us be clear about the opposing forces – the pro-abortionists clamour for Death. They have invented false rights that do not exist which are simply an excuse to legalise the killing of the most defenceless and vulnerable of all – boys and girls in the womb.
They have called those rights “human rights” when, in fact, they are the exact opposite of human rights. The invented rights they demand are profoundly inhuman and vitiate every foundation and principle upon which true human rights stand.
The abortionists insert words like ‘choice’ when, in fact, by ending the life of a child, they nullify all the wonderful choices God creates us to properly choose.”
In keeping with Fr McCafferty’s words, Saturday’s event was an incredible and moving testament to the public gratitude and support for Northern Ireland’s pro-life laws which have safeguarded thousands of mothers and babies here and continue to save countless lives every year.
As I told the crowds gathered there on Saturday, at this critical time in history, we must continue to be a very loud voice, because the voice of the unborn cannot speak they cannot defend themselves, so we must speak for those children through public events and in our own day to day lives. The March heard from a number of powerful and brave speakers, including noted public figure and member of the House of Lords, Baroness Nuala O’Loan. In July, Baroness O’Loan co-authored an open letter calling on Theresa May to either pull Westminster’s abortion Act or take further action to prevent the law being imposed. Over 20,000 people in Northern Ireland signed the letter.
Speaking to the vast crowd, she said: “We’re here because in July, in Westminster, members of Parliament who don’t live here, who don’t represent us, decided that our laws should change. In 1967, we said that we did not want the abortion act. In 2016, we said that we did not want the abortion act…I believe, as do millions of others across the world, that human life exists from the moment of conception and that it must be protected at all times.”
Baroness O’Loan also highlighted the constituntional abuses that took place surrounding Westminster’s abortion law. She said that “the Northern Ireland Formation Bill will go down in British constitutional history as one of its blackest moments of all times when constitutional due process was completely swept aside because of the conviction of parliamentarians, none of whom represents Northern Ireland.”
The March also heard from Adele Best who spoke passionately about her own devastating abortion experiences, how abortion destroys the lives of women, and why every woman deserves so much better than the violence and violation of abortion.
Following Adele’s moving speech, Belfast mum and businesswoman Stephanie McKittrick shared her amazing story of hope, courage and love. In Stephanie’s own words, “I risked my life and carried my baby to full term for one precious cuddle before she died.”
Stephanie was told to terminate her baby to save her own life, she knew it wasn't an option. The recruitment consultant was just 20-weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus - a deadly build-up of fluid on the brain. Stephanie risked her own life for her baby girl Layla, who died after just 25 hours.
The March for Their Lives was Precious Life’s largest ever pro-life event, with the March even having to reroute to accommodate the incredible crowds! People of all ages and across all different backgrounds, including a huge number of young people and families, united to reject the violence and cruelty of abortion. It was truly a sight to behold.
We are heartened and greatly encouraged by the incredible turn-out at the March for Their Lives. It was such a successful and uplifting day on Saturday, but there is still a mammoth amount of work to be done beyond that. The reality is that the battle is far from over; we need to build on this momentum and accelerate our efforts in the coming days and weeks to halt this horrific law. For the next phase of our efforts, we really need people to come on board with Precious Life and help us to continue our ‘Fight-Back’ Campaign through lobbying their elected representatives and joining our crucial street outreach information sessions in towns and cities across Northern Ireland.
Above all, we need people to join us in our urgent 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting Campaign, which started on Sunday September 8th and will finish on Thursday 17th October. We are asking people to join us in prayer and fasting, community outreach and peaceful vigils to keep mothers and babies safe from abortion across Northern Ireland.