From 19-26 July, nine volunteers of Irish Society for Christian Civilisation – ISFCC distributed 7,400 leaflets entitled 7 Reasons to Reject Abortion in nineteen towns and cities including Cavan, Dublin, Tullamore, Waterford, Cork, Tralee, Limerick and Kilkenny. Many smaller towns were also visited during the eight day caravan.
In these smaller towns, caravan members would perform a “flash campaign”. The bagpipers would march down the centre of town while other caravan members handed leaflets to all those who came to their front doorstep. Thus, in a very quick and easy fashion, a substantial number of the locals received a leaflet. At each campaign, the red standard of Tradition, Family & Property* and a 9 foot banner, which read “Pray & Act against the Sin of Abortion”, were also unfurled. Because the banner appealed to people’s conscience, it always caused a reaction from the public.
Street Debates & Positive Feedback
Many times lively discussions were held. Here are just some of the debates.
In Waterford, a man started yelling “You lost! You lost!” At this Domenick approached to talk to him whereupon the man asked “What if the unborn child is terminally ill?” Domenick: “Why don't you just kill all the terminally ill people then?” “Good point!” the man replied.
Very often, volunteers received positive and encouraging feedback such as this one: “I was raped eight years ago and I still had the child. I have his name tattooed on my arm.” In Limerick a middle-aged lady said “You're doing a good job and you're so brave to be out here.” Then she finished by saying: “It gives me hope to see you out here.”
Another man in Waterford came up and said “Something is already starting to change regarding abortion, especially among young people."
Ennis was very receptive to the campaign but was also the only time a proper counter protest developed. One protester claimed “I don't think you understand the pain you're causing this city.” Getting to the point, the caravan member replied “I don't think you understand the pain of death that the unborn baby feels when being aborted.”
As the volunteers of the caravan were all men, they were frequently asked “Where are all the women?” The two responses were either, “If there were women, would you agree with us?” (The answer was always no) or, “Everyone, regardless if the person is a man or woman, has the obligation to defend innocent life.”
One lady in Clonmel took an immediate dislike to the pro-life banner and repeatedly shouted “It’s not a sin! It’s not a sin! It’s not a sin!”
Some debates could almost be jokes. In Tralee, a woman shouted “My body! My choice!” “Do you have four arms, four legs and four eyes?” someone politely asked. “Yes!” the woman yelled back. “I do!”
Very rarely did a caravan member change the mind of the one he was debating. However, many people listening to these debates came firmly over to the pro-life.
Campaign Attacked in Kilkenny
At 4:28 PM, the volunteers parked their vehicles just a few blocks from Kilkenny’s historic centre and by 4:35 the campaign for the unborn was in full-swing.
However, barely 15 minutes had passed when an unidentified woman grabbed the banner and attempted to rip it in half.
After she failed to destroy the banner, the woman began cursing as well as shouting that she did not agree with the message. The volunteers responded together saying three times “Freedom of speech, practise what you preach.”
Then she caught sight of the bagpipes. She lunged at the bagpipes and grabbed onto them. It ended with both the bagpiper and the woman on the ground with the attacker clutching a piece of the instrument in her hand.
When they got to their feet, the bagpiper shouted, “You broke my bagpipes!” She beat her chest and said emphatically, “I'm glad I broke it!” While the damage to the musical instrument was slight, it made them impossible to play for the rest of the caravan.
In a final fit of rage, the woman turned to the organisation's photographer, Joseph, who was documenting the campaign. Swearing and cursing, she punched him in the chest and lashed at the camera in an effort to destroy the photographic evidence of her actions.
At 4:53, the gardaí arrived. They quickly helped to de-escalate the situation and pulled the aggressor aside. One of the volunteers and the photographer provided eyewitness accounts to the gardaí. Following the campaign, three of the volunteers walked to the nearby garda station and filed official police reports.
The majority of onlookers appeared to be horrified at the attack. A man from the United States was heard shouting at the woman during the attack, “Let them have their own opinion! Freedom of speech!” Wanting to manifest his support in some way, a Lithuanian man offered to hold the banner. Numerous ladies who witnessed the attack approached the volunteers afterwards saying, “This is horrible... I want you to know that I stand with you!” A lady from Kilkenny even said “I want to thank you for what you’re doing. Please don’t leave Kilkenny thinking everyone is like her” (referring to the attacker). One man was heard saying, “I can't believe this is happening! How can they just get away like that?”
Was the Caravan a Success?
The 2019 Pro-life caravan was a success from many perspectives. In only eight days, 7,400 leaflets were distributed throughout the country. Local pro-lifers who witnessed the campaign were hugely encouraged to continue their important work. Pro-abortionists on the other hand woke up to the uncomfortable fact that pro-lifers were not backing down. Many times, these pro-abortionists would accuse the caravan of bringing up an issue that was already settled. “The people voted,” they would say. “You can’t change it.” “No,” came the reply “It’s only over when we say it is. We’re going to change Ireland just as the pro-life Americans are changing theirs.”
A Prayerful Caravan
The caravan symbolically started at the Hill of Slane, the same location where St. Patrick knowingly disobey the King by lighting a fire. The volunteers then ended the caravan with a pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, thanking God and St. Patrick for the successful week.
A Big Thank You
Every caravan member would like to thank all those who contributed towards the caravan. Without your help, none of this would have been possible. The volunteers would also like to thank those that opened up their homes for them to sleep and to receive a hot meal. Your encouragement and generosity was a huge morale boost for every single volunteer on caravan.
Our Lady of Knock. Pray for us!
* Irish Society for Christian Civilisation - ISFCC is one of many autonomous organisations throughout the world that is inspired by the work of Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveria, a Brazilian thinker and activist who founded the Brazilian Society for the Defence of Tradition, Family & Property - TFP. This is why ISFCC uses TFP symbols such as the TFP standard and red capes.