Thousands walk in silent protest against decriminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland

Thousands walked in silent protest against changing Northern Ireland's abortion laws(Photo: NI Voiceless)

Thousands of people angry over a new law that will drastically relax Northern Ireland's abortion laws joined in a solemn procession at Stormont on Friday evening. 

The protest was organised by NI Voiceless and brought together people from across the political spectrum, and people of all faiths and none. 

Organisers said there was frustration that the people of Northern Ireland "were not asked about this undemocratic change, which does not reflect public or political opinion here".

The protest was organised to give a voice to the unborn who "cannot speak in defence of their own right to life and we cannot sit back without standing for them". 

The protesters walked in silence from the gates of Stormont to the front of the building, where they stood in silence while shining lights for six minutes to represent the six counties of Northern Ireland. 

The size of the turnout took organisers aback given that the campaign group only formed in August. 

"It is heartening to know that so many in Northern Ireland care passionately about the value of human life and long to see us being a truly life-affirming society for every person," they said. 

Following yesterday's protest, NI Voiceless called on the people of Northern Ireland to "stand for the value of human life" by supporting groups that are working on behalf of the unborn as well as their mothers, and by "refusing to vote for politicians and parties who do not stand for both".

It also encouraged people to "serve women and families" by getting behind community groups and charities that support women through pregnancy and into motherhood. 

"This is a matter of life and death. Together we can be a society where every human life is valued and no human death is chosen," said NI Voiceless. 

DUP leader Arlene Foster was among the thousands of people who took part.  She said she was joining the protest "to stand together and defend the rights of the unborn child.

"Both lives matter," she said.