The 23rd Roadshow was an amazing success; it was one of our largest to date and was vitally important at a time when the country was asking searching questions about abortion.
This year's pro-life tour was tinged with sadness due to the passing of the legislation in Dáil Éireann, which brought a huge urgency to the work we had to do: engaging with people, informing them of the issues and of the reality of the horrific abortion bill, and advocating life.
Each day our stall was set up; covered in pro-life literature and information, decorated with bright LIFE balloons, and manned by young people. The public thronged to come and receive life-affirming information.
The Roadshow has undoubtedly played a huge part in spreading the message of Life, reaching ordinary people on the street, and is crucial to the huge effort required to restore Ireland's pro-life ethos. Congratulations to all the incredible Roadshow team who worked so hard over the past 2 weeks!
We spent Wednesday 10th July outside Leinster House, witnessing for pre-born children and their mothers, as the Dáil debated the abortion bill, and Fine Gael renaged on the pro-life promise they made to the people in 2011.
On Thursday we set off on Roadshow 2013. What can I say, I loved it!
We visited towns and cities across the length and breadth of Ireland, met thousands of people, distributed pro life literature, collected pro life pledges, gave out Precious feet badges, information booklets, DVD’s and Celebrate Life balloons. We showed the public the terrible reality of abortion and the amazing development of the child in the womb, using foetal models and Life boards (large posters of babies in the womb). Best of all was being part of the Youth Defence team that engaged directly with the public, and many hearts and minds were changed and many more inspired to be part of the pro-life movement.
We met some women who had had abortions, and hoped others would never go through that pain. We were able to direct those in need of it towards help and healing for post abortive women and men. We encountered thousands of people across the country who were furious about the government’s abortion bill, and were glad to be able to learn about how to get involved with YD and reach out to others. When people see the reality of what abortion does to children, and the negative affects it has on women, they can no longer justify supporting it. Youth Defence brings the truth of the greatest human rights abuse of our times into the public domain, so that the unconcerned are moved from apathy to action and the realisation that this is everyone’s business - we as a society must stop this happening to women and children.
The roadshow really confirmed my belief that the majority of people in this country are immensely pro life. People are sick of the government spin, the excuses and the lies. When it boils down to the facts of the issue and the actual wording of the bill, the people do not want abortion, and they did not want this bill to become legislation. The Irish people know that we can do so much better for our mothers and babies than abortion, not least because of the tireless information campaign run by YD and the Life Institute in the past year.
The YD Roadshow is so successful that pro life activists from other countries come to learn about and experience it. This year some wonderful pro life activists from Scotland, New Zealand and America joined us. I think it’s safe to say they enjoyed it, and were really impressed with the YD model of activism.
A wonderful story came from one of our volunteers, Nicola, who had been going door to door in her local town a few weeks before, informing people about the abortion bill and encouraging them to contact their TD’s and Senators. A former classmate opened the door with a beautiful baby in her arms. The young mother told Nicola that her baby was alive today because she saw the photos of the aborted babies at a Youth Defence street session and knew she couldn't do that to her baby. She thanked the volunteers and urged them to keep up their great work. It was so uplifting and amazing. Another child saved because his Mom knew what abortion really is and how it would hurt them both.
The support of the public has been wonderful too. It was lovely to get encouragement from people. I heard “It’s great to see young people out standing up for mothers and babies” in quite a few towns and cities! One day in particular stands out in my mind:
We had just got out the boxes of leaflets and the signs for the street session in a busy city, but hadn’t set up properly yet. I was feeling a bit apprehensive about the day ahead, when I noticed a lady looking at our boxes. She started to approach us with her daughter; I was prepared for a telling off! But the lady just simply asked us what we were doing. We explained about the street session and the abortion bill, and to my surprise she smiled. She told us that she had a son when she was 21, her boyfriend left her all alone. She chose life for her son, despite so many difficulties. He is now 21 and loving life! She fears that women like her may be pushed into aborting their children, and lamented that the government would not put money and resources into supporting women in crisis rather than offering the medieval ‘solution’ of abortion. That lovely and brave woman made my day! She signed the pledge, took a leaflet, put on a precious feet pin, wished us all the best and said she’d be praying for us.
The past two weeks have been uplifting and rewarding. I’ve seen how pro life this country is, I’ve met the most wonderful people, caught up with old friends, and made new ones. It’s impossible to put into words how much was achieved on the roadshow and how much the Holy Spirit inspired both us and the public. I learned how to engage both those who were interested in our work, and those who disagreed with us, in meaningful conversation. I learned how to get to the heart of the issue – children are killed and women are hurt - besides wasting time discussing sideshow nonsense. I’ve learned how powerful the street information sessions are in informing people about what abortion really is, how it affects women, and how it’s being undemocratically foisted on our nation. I’ve learned so much from the other YD volunteers and from the hands on experience. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity.
I’d like to thank all the lovely people in the office for their tireless work and commitment all throughout the year, especially in organising the hugely successful events that were the vigils, rally and roadshow. Your work is really appreciated. Thanks also to all the YD volunteers and supporters out there! Thank you for your time, commitment, donations, support and most importantly prayers, it wouldn’t be possible without YOU! Please keep invoking the Holy Spirit to enlighten all at this crucial time in Ireland.
No matter what happens, the Pro Life Movement is not going away. We are stronger than ever. People who a few years ago might have only been nominally pro life have been stirred to action by recent events and are ready to stand up and speak out. We are growing, we are committed and we will never give up. We know with the grace of God we can and will do better for mothers and babies!
Where do I begin? This was probably one of the most meaningful trips I have ever been on. Never in a million years did I expect the legalization of abortion to be debated by the Irish government. Historically, Ireland has been one of the safest countries for a mother and child to live.
July 10 started this amazing journey of bringing out the truth about abortion to the people of Ireland. We spent the day in front of the Dáil praying that the government would see the evil in permitting abortion. We lined the streets with our LIFE poster boards and did several cheers and campaigns not only get the attention of others on the street, but to show the TDs our stance on the issue at hand.
Then the work of the Roadshow began. We traveled around the country passing out pro life pamphlets and flyers, collecting signatures, and conversing with the people in the various towns and cities we visited throughout our mission. We talked to so many interesting individuals; some that made us laugh, others that made us cry with their stories. I was on the Roadshow last year and was expecting the places we visited this year to be the same. However, I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to several new locations. In practically all of the places we stopped, people were very supportive of our efforts. People were genuinely happy to see us and very welcoming. Even if they didn’t appreciate what we were doing or saying, they respected us for holding steadfast to our views, rather than blasting us.
I loved taking part in this amazing experience. Youth Defence is just one big family, and I feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to work with such wonderful people. I know we all are going to take away something special from our little adventure. I noticed a change in us as a group as we progressed throughout the country. The confidence level of new members in particular shot way up over those 10 days. I was constantly reminded of how important this fight is and how vital it is to protect the unborn babies and their mothers in Ireland, as well as in every other county in the world. That alone was enough to set my heart ablaze and allow a passion for what is morally right to shine through in my attitude and how I approached each day. I truly am grateful for all the people I have met. The friendships I have made on this trip will last a lifetime. YD has done so much over the years for the pro life movement I feel privileged to have been allowed to participate.
After the Rally for Life on July 6th - the biggest in history - I was consumed with joy and feelings of complete elation. The prolife movement was invincible, we were the overwhelming majority, we were going to win, and nothing could stop us. Within days I found myself outside Dáil Éireann praying that the politicians would have a change of heart. It was as if everything had collapsed. I felt as if the desire to protect life had been defeated. I kept thinking about Ireland and how it would never be the same again, the country I know and love was at that moment bringing in a bill that would allow us to kill the most vulnerable Irish citizens. So I began the Roadshow with feelings of crippling despair and a voice in my head like a broken record repeated "What is point?" over and over.
Unlike the year before, at the beginning this Roadshow seemed to require a big effort to stay positive. And yet it was my experiences on the pro-life tour that gave me the boost I needed to continue fighting for the unborn.
On my very first street session a man approached me and asked me the very question I had been asking myself, "Why are you here, the bill is going to be passed anyway regardless of what you say or do." This was a defining moment for me because it was at this instance that I realised just how important the Roadshow was. I told the man that I was there to tell the truth, I pointed to a picture of a dismembered baby and simply said: that is what abortion is. It is now more important than ever to tell the truth and show the reality that is abortion because that is what is going to be happening to Irish children behind closed doors. The man left, and I don't if what I said had any effect on him but his question reminded me of how important the work Youth Defence does on the streets is.
Throughout the Roadshow I witnessed the minds and hearts of so many being changed. Yes there are those who will never change but we were there to enlighten those who needed help, those who were confused, misinformed or in pain but who were pro-life at heart and that is what's important. Together we can restore our pro-life ethos, and we will not rest until we have done so.