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18th May 2018

Pro-life group behind Ben Bulben ‘No’ sign spark anger in Donegal by erecting white crosses

Michael Lanigan

Donegal Barry Whyte

They have claimed 17,000 were placed along the roadside.

A pro-life group in Donegal has sparked controversy by erecting a large number of crosses along the roadside between Bridge End and Letterkenny.

The crosses were erected between 4am and 7am on Friday morning, and it is claimed a total of 17,000 were planted to raise awareness for the ‘No’ campaign ahead of the referendum on 25 May.

Speaking with JOE earlier about the appearance of the thousands of crosses, Sinead Stewart of Donegal Together for Yes criticised the move, saying:

“We’ve been contacted this morning about it, and it was from very distressed people who were devastated with it.”

She went on to say that this was the same group behind the ‘No’ sign that was erected on Ben Bulben in Sligo.

“It’s the same cohort who went under the cover of night up a mountain in Sligo,” she said.

“It’s my ex-boss. You’ll find he and I had a discussion about the No side on Highland Radio.”

Pointing out what she felt was the immediate risk posed by the laying out of these crosses, she said, “Donegal has high prevalence of road accidents. For them to do this under the cover of night in such a callous way is just shocking.”

“There’s no regard for the real human beings affected. These people are talking theology. They’re playing a cruel game with people’s lives. We’ve had to send forward a few people on to the counselling services because of it. That’s not right.

“They’re showing themselves up to be the fanatics that they are,” she said, talking then about how the stunt had influenced local opinions. “The delivery guy came down at 12 from Letterkenny. He’d seen them and asked for a Yes badge. They’d driven him to Yes. That’s the effect.”

Reaching out to Pro-Life Donegal, a spokesperson for the organisation distanced themselves from the stunt, telling JOE: “Christopher is not actually directly involved in Donegal Pro-Life. I’m on the committee of Donegal Pro-Life and we haven’t personally erected anything.”

“I understand it represents the 17,000 babies that will be aborted in Ireland if a yes vote comes in. That’s the pro-rata proportion that will be affecting Ireland once we reach British standards.”

Through their spokesperson, JOE was put in contact with Christopher, who was acting as the spokesperson for the group behind both stunts.

“The reason for Ben Bulben was that we were getting no coverage in the media. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Facebook and Google shutting down the pro-life argument. We were winning on the digital media front. So we had to take extra strong measures here. That’s what Ben Bulben was.”

Ben Bulben

“It encouraged the pro-life side. It was a rallying call. People felt they were alone in the pro-life fight. Then all of a sudden we were able to pull a crowd together and get the white crosses thing going very quickly.”

When asked if he had participated in either stunt, Christopher said he was only the spokesperson. “The people, they’re common folk. They’re shy and don’t want to be in the media. They’re rather get the word out through these awareness campaigns.”

Responding to the issue of whether this was a public safety hazard, he said:

“That statement is absolutely daft. They’re no more than a foot tall. The startling thing is the quantity. Imagine driving along the road and there are daffodils planted all the way, but instead of daffodils, we have white crosses.

“By lunch Donegal County Council said they’d be lifting them because they’re a road hazard. That’s brilliant. It confirmed that we can’t get our message out.

“We caught them completely unaware,” he added in reference to the Together for Yes response.

“They don’t have time to prepare. They give knee-jerk reactions, like the babies of Tuam. They keep beating the same drum, which is ‘where are you’s getting the money to do all of this?'”

Here he was referencing a complaint registered by Donegal Together For Yes against Donegal Pro Life with the Standards in Public Office Commission after an Irish Times article revealed that DPL was not registered as a Third Party body with SIPO as per the requirement for any body in receipt of donations above ‚ā¨100.

These awareness campaigns, he insists are “all good fun and hard work.”

“It adds a bit of excitement to the whole thing. People waking up in the morning in Donegal and not knowing what to expect.

“It’s rolling up the sleeves with 20 people climbing up the mountain with scaffolding plastic, cheap to buy, buy it in your hardware stores. It’s not where did the money come from. It’s where did the energy come from. That’s the miracle.

“I drove the route. It really is an incredible sight to see so many graves, childrens’ graves, because that’s what we are looking at. That’s the sad fact.”

Donegal County Council has confirmed that they will be removing the crosses.

Featured Image Source: Barry Whyte

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