Thousands protest over abortion legislation

Gardai seperate Pro Life and Pro Choice protestors on O'Connell Street. Picture: Niall Carson, PA

Up to 30,000 protesters took to the streets of Dublin today against the contentious new abortion legislation.

Pro-life groups weaved through the capital for a mass rally, five days before the controversial law is expected to be passed in the Dail.

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.

Earlier, in a mass celebrating the gift of life, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said every human life must be respected from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death and at every moment in-between.

“Being Pro-Life is not about a slogan or a mantra,” he told the packed congregation in the Church of St. Dominick, Dublin.

“It is about being someone who searches for the foundations of the deepest meaning of life and the roots of hope.”

A number of amendments and clarifications are been made to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 by Health Minister James Reilly, which will be voted on by TDs next week.

If enacted, the bill will legalise abortion where there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother, including the threat of suicide.

Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton – the most senior figure opposed to parts of the legislation – last night lodged a series of amendments to the proposed legislation, including changing a clause allowing abortion when an expectant mother is at risk of suicide.

It also asked Mr Reilly to enter a gestation period after which an abortion can not be carried out.

Elsewhere Peter Mathews, Terence Flanagan, Brian Walsh and Billy Timmins were automatically expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party and face being kicked off Oireachtas committees after they voted against the Government in the first series of ballots.

As many as seven more Fine Gael TDs are said to be toying with rebellion over the bill.

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