AROUND 300 people from the Dungannon area are taking part today in the major ‘Save the 8th Amendment’ rally being held in Dublin.
Buses from Cookstown, Clonoe and Dungannon departed this morning for what one pro-life campaigner says will be an event of ‘historic significance’ for Ireland.
Catherine Sewell, President of the St Joseph’s PRO Life Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said interest in the rally was growing.
“The strength of feeling that I have been experiencing on this referendum has been overwhelming,” she said.
“While the referendum is taking place in the South, our pro-life campaigners in the North are helping with canvassing and the distribution of leaflets promoting the need to reject the proposal to repeal the eighth amendment.
“People are beginning to realise just how important it will be to save the eighth amendment. We don’t want a situation where there we are walking with our children along the streets of Ireland and they are asking us what goes on inside abortion clinics.
“I have been to a number of pro-life rallies in recent years and the importance of Saturday’s is clear. It is vital that Ireland comes out to show the strength of pro-life feeling which exists.”
She also says that the St Joseph’s Pro-Life branch intends making abortion an issue in the forthcoming by-election for the Westminster seat vacated in January by Sinn Fein’s Barry McElduff.
“I note that some parties are already trying to hide their aggressive abortion policies from the electorate. They are running scared from their own policies and we intend to hound them all the way,” she has said.
Her comments came as the leader of Sinn Féin in the North, Michelle O’Neill, this week told the Dungannon Herald she expected its elected members to vote in line with party policy on the issue, and that proposals to give them a ‘Conscience Vote’ had now been defeated three times.
The Clonoe woman also expressed confidence that no more elected party officials would follow the example of Francie Brolly, who recently departed from Sinn Féin over its abortion policy.
“I do understand it is an emotive and sensitive issue but we have to trust women, particularly around the Repeal the Eighth, and the party is out in full-on support for the Repeal the Eighth Amendment campaign, and obviously over the next couple of months, that will be a dominant feature on the political landscape,” she said.