CAMPAIGNS are under way in earnest in Kildare as opposing sides battle to protect and remove the eighth amendment.
Groups on both sides of the abortion referendum have been meeting and planning strategies to encourage support in the area.
A public information meeting has been organised by the Kildare Coalition for Repeal and for Monday, 26 March, at 8pm in Newbridge Town Hall and a delegation from Kildare for Life travelled to Dublin to take part in the recent Rally for Life march.
Guest speakers for the public meeting on Monday will include Catherine Murphy TD, Social Democrats; a representative from South Kildare 4 Repeal, Paula Morrin from Midwives for Choice and Evie Nevin from Disabled People for Choice.
The national campaign for Together for Yes will be unveiled on 22 March and members of local groups say they plan to put their efforts into full swing from then.
Athy 4 Repeal held a coffee morning in Bradburys on Saturday, 10 March, and have been working closely with the South Kildare team.
“We have regular meetings with the South Kildare team and we met with the North Kildare team, to have a full county get together,” said Samantha Kenny from Athy 4 Repeal.
“A campaign from us is on the cards and we plan to start canvassing in the next two weeks.”
She added that they have already held information stands in Kildare Town and Newbridge and so far feedback has been positive.
“The public meeting will definitely give us a feel for what people are thinking,” she added.
“Once the national campaign gets under way we will really kick off as well.”
The Kildare for Life group have also busy also and a large delegation attended the “rally for life” march in Dublin recently. Organisers said the march, which was attended by tens of thousands, was the largest event of the referendum campaign to date.
“It was great to see such a huge crowd from the county there” said Christine Darcy, a spokesperson from Kildare for Life.
“People are very concerned about what the Government is proposing. A lot of ordinary voters out there are a bit worried maybe about the hard cases, but they’re really shocked when the find out that this referendum will legalise abortion on demand for the first three months of pregnancy and introduce the British model of two doctors signing off on “mental health grounds” for abortion right up until birth”.
“This is not what people expected at all. It’s really extreme and a lot of people are very worried about it, and that’s why you saw such a huge crowd travel to Dublin for the rally”.
The rally saw people marching from the Garden of Remembrance to Merrion square, a route of over three miles. The first marchers arrived at Merrion Square at approximately the same time as the last marchers were leaving O’Connell Street.
“This was really huge’’ Ms Darcy said. “I have been to all Ireland finals and I’ve never seen a crowd of that size in one place in Dublin. The atmosphere was really positive – you had young and old, from all across the country, Catholics, Protestants, and people with no religion at all. One of the things that’s really striking is how diverse the NO campaign is, and how it really represents a broad swathe of people in Ireland”.
Kildare for Life will be knocking on doors across the county between now and polling day.
“Our volunteers are really eager to get out there and talk to people”, she continued.
She said that over the next ten weeks the group is going to have to get that message out.
“The other side has an awful lot of money behind them, Amnesty Ireland was found out recently illegally taking over a hundred thousand from an American Billionaire, and they’re refusing to give it back.
A lot of people haven’t thought yet what abortion means and who wants it. In England, nine out of ten babies who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome get aborted. That’s not because the mothers are bad people, they’re just trying to do their best. The problem is that the abortion clinics are out for business, and they tell women “this is the best you can do”. To them, every woman is a potential customer. Inviting these abortion clinics in here to advertise to young women in a crisis is just the wrong thing to do. At the moment, abortion is sometimes a very sad last resort for a woman. When you legalise it, you’ll have people coming in here to try to turn it into the first option a young woman is given.”