Something A Bit Loaves And Fishy About This


Saturday’s pro-life vigil.

Taking up an entire side of  Merrion Square, Dublin, on Saturday..

So, how many?

Anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000, claim organisers.

Rubbish, you say?

Time to call in Crowdsizeapp…

From Workers Solidarity Movement:

This is a simple process of pulling up a map of the area, drawing a box around the area occupied – very easy in this case as it was entirely enclosed by crowd control barriers and then entering a density estimate for the crowd. We were actually very generous and went for the maximum available density despite the fact it was obvious the crowd was not packed in that tightly. As can be seen [above] this suggests a maximum crowd size of 14,370. There is no physical way to fit 25,000 people into the available space without them being on each other shoulders – and the Vigil for Life crowd were really not up to such rock concert conditions. 30,000 or 50,000 are simply ludicrous estimates that would have required stacking people three high.


Poor Turnout Despite Massive Spending (

154 thoughts on “Something A Bit Loaves And Fishy About This

  1. Todd

    Still though 14 thousand people is quite the turnout and show this country is far more divided on the issue.

    1. IDB

      Is that including the children? Because, in fairness, we can’t say those are their actual, intelligently derived opinions.
      Give a kid a sign to wave and he’ll wave it!

        1. Klarticus

          They probably don’t understand NAMA or cutbacks either
          But there’s plenty of f–kers willing to use their kids as political placards.

          1. Continuity Jay-Z

            Well the difference is the risk of abortion has bypassed your kid by the decisions made by Government/NAMA/banks/IMF/Troika etc. will directly impact that child (aka. future voter)/

          2. Continuity Jay-Z

            Well the difference is the risk of abortion has bypassed your kid but the decisions made by Government/NAMA/banks/IMF/Troika etc. will directly impact your child (aka. future voter). It is probably no harm to show your kid that these men in suits on the telly can and will have a dramatic impact on your life.

      1. Barry

        Soon the pro-abortion supporters will be telling us that nobody turned up. Time for the pro-abortion supporters to stop deluding themselves. Pro-abortion supporters would be lucky to get 10% of Saturdays crowd..

        1. DAN

          “Pro-abortion supporters” is redundant, pro-abortion, or abortion suporters, might not be as emotive, but it’s less stupid.
          It doesn’t really matter how many people show up, the question is whether or not one side can force their subjective values on to the other, and in a functioning democracy they shouldn’t be able to.

    2. droid

      If you offered free buses from all over the country you could get a large turnout for any march.

      My guess is, if you removed the massive spending on publicity and organisation, not to mention the advocacy from every pulpit in Ireland, they’d be lucky to get 5000.

      1. Sidewinder

        I also saw at least three buses with UK reg so it’s hardly a majority from the electorate now is it?

      2. Bob

        The pro life march happen every summer in Dublin or Belfast. They get between 6-10,00 as standard. Numerically the pro life movement is very strong with great organisation.

          1. Bob

            In the red C poll taken about a month ago only about 34% of people considered themselves ‘pro choice’. Its not very impressive.

    3. len

      There are definitely people divided on this issue. But at the same time, they were handing out ipads as prizes for people who came and were getting groups of people from abroad to join in, so it’s kind of hard to know just how many actual Irish citizens turned up, and of them how many were genuinely protesting against legislation that will protect women’s lives.

    4. SOMK

      with enough funds and basic communication skills surely anyone could organise 20-30,000 people to convene anywhere, about practically anything? Even if you got 100,000 people what would it prove? Did 100,000 people going to see Oasis play in Cork prove Oasis were the best band in the world? No, it didn’t even prove they were better than Blur.

      There’s a logical fallacy known as Argumentum ad populum (appeal to the people), it’s a logical fallacy for a reason.

      1. jean

        Completely agree. Every time there’s a march for either side of this issue there’s a big pointless kerfuffle about the numbers. It’s the numbers that vote that will matter, and marches are not an accurate predictor of votes.

        1. Continuity Jay-Z

          At the time (1996) Oasis were certainly the biggest draw in Europe. They were fantastic in Cork.

      2. Bob

        If it was so easy the anti-austerity protests would achieved it. The only other group who can achieve this are farmers. They are extremely motivated and politically astute.

    5. Joe

      They prob counted all the viable ovaries as attendees cause they are real people waiting to be born into this work and not just a sac of genetic material.

  2. paul

    you’ve seen the Where’s Wally photo right?

    oh this is turning into a disaster for the anti-choicers. Youth Defence had claims of 50,000, now it looks like it could be well under 10,000!

    1. Rob

      So there could have been a maximum of 14K in that space at any one point in time. How many could pass through in the space of a couple of hours? Some might have been there for the first half and not the second, others for the second half and not the first. Was a cold day. Doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that a lot of people would have shown their face and then headed off.

      1. well

        ” Doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that a lot of people would have shown their face and then headed off.” some people just used it to go shopping. free bus to dublin and back., very handy.

    1. Just Sayin

      and some of them could be having twins or triplets, that would easily account for the numbers.

      I’m surprised they don’t add on extra for sperm and go for a really big number
      (cue Monthy Python song etc…)

  3. Helen

    25,000 was the garda estimate. Isn’t is strange, the Gardai always underestimate left wing/ liberal marches, but always bump up right wing marches. Quel supris.

    1. rocket boy

      Really? You mean that the left wing lads always have an exact count and give this truthfully!? I’m no fans of the lads in merrion square but if the gardai said over 20k i’d go with that and not some workers party pinko weridos.

        1. rocket boy

          one: don’t have an iphone.
          two: garda estimates are (hopefully) based on something better than a free app.

          1. droid

            lol. Crowd density based on physical space is, I assure you, better than the methods the Gardai use. If you think there’s something wrong with the app’s calculations, please enlighten us. You could also do the maths yourself with a pen and paper.

          2. rocket boy

            @droid: lol? crowd size is hardly a laughing matter.

            i find it strange you can ‘assure’ me that the free app based on satellite imagery and big thick yellow lines is better than the gardai who were actually there (and whose methods you, as do i, have no idea of)

            nah biy. did my maths in college. if you look at your beloved app you’ll see it’s not a total density calculation, (see garden part for a less dense one). Sorry dude. pens n paperless office.

          3. droid

            Gardai estimates are based on experience and comparison to other demonstrations and events where numbers are controlled or measured in some way. The calculations are back of the envelope business, their accuracy varies wildly and can often be tainted by political considerations. For some venues figures are occasionally supplied by the insurance industry.

            An app that calculates crowd size based on the physical capacity of a venue or area, whilst obviously not entirely accurate, seems to be a more objective and scientific method of establishing the maximum possible number at an event.

          4. david

            The evidence clearly shows the gardai were wrong with their 20,000 estimate. A reliable benchmark is the Guinness Book of World Records from the Oireachtas Retort mentioned above, which gives a different crowd (a Where’s Wally World Record attempt) of approximately the same density and going back 4 lamp posts (on a slightly wider side of Merrion Square) a total of 3,701 people. Photos suggest the Pro-Life march went back 6 lamp posts, but even if it went back the full 8 this would still only give approximately 7,000 people.

      1. Helen

        No. But the pro-choice meeting in summer was estimated by the gardai at less than 800. Youtube clearly showed it was far larger. I’m just pointing out that the Gardai generally incline towards the right / conservative. No surprise there.

    2. Jolly

      Yes they seemed happy to work for the anti-choice crowds interest. Maybe they got paid a little extra on the side?
      I was at the counter protest and a garda with a very overestimated waist asked me to move from the footpath (I was on the side of it already) so as to let people walk by… I wasn’t even blocking anyone and there was plenty of room on the path. The anti-choice crowd were blocking a whole street off.

      1. Helen

        They don’t need to be paid extra. Just to be patted on the heads by their superiors and told that they’re good boys.

    3. SiriusBrowne

      Oh well seeing as the entire media establishment is morbidly pushing for x legislation based on death of savita (TOTALLY unrelated to x case)- we’re about even when it comes to bias then arent we…

      1. Sidewinder

        It’s apparent from the idiocy of that post that pointing out the idiocy of that post would be pointless.

  4. Owen C

    We get this at every “public protest”. Organisers say X, government/opposition say 25% of X, Gardai usually accurately split the difference around 50% of X.

    Also, given that this debate has happened before, and maybe i missed the Broadsheet post on it, and im no pro-lifer by any means, but where did Broadsheet query the frankly nutty organiser-led-estimates of anti-austerity type protests over the last 18 months?

    1. droid

      TBF, this is one of the first times Ive seen it backed up by any kind of objective evidence. Unless the app is lying or pro-lifers can defy the laws of physics then its fair comment.

        1. Oisin

          Was on all those marches posted there. I was also at the counter demo on Saturday and saw the anti-choice march. The organisers figures are much closer to those the gardai gave and all were bigger than the anti-choice rally.

          1. rocket boy

            Fair enough. i’m still gona have to go with the police force. pro-lifers can say what they want, as can the austerity groups cause in a way if you don’t beat your own drum who will. Gardaí 1 – Random Physical Area to Number of People Generator apps 0

      1. Sidewinder

        Oh conspiracy theory waffle. I know a few gardaí and they’re all right. They’re certainly not part of some capitalist vatican conspiracy.

        1. Helen

          agreed, no conspiracy – but they always support the government position no matter what, and they get away with a lot in reward, the ‘rape tape’ rossport incident being the tip of the iceberg.

        1. paul

          Yep WSM have rigged the laws of physics by using testicles bound for lebanese men. they harvest them and make the fuel of satan power these so-called apps with yellow lines and so-called science. I will pray for them when they rot in hell.

  5. bunununs

    Love this application, now I don’t need to spend sleepless nights wondering how many people I can invite to my garden parties – maximum density is a must this time of year.

  6. droid

    The Savita march before Christmas took up a bit more of Merrion square and seemed more densely packed, good to know that it was probably about 15k too.

    1. Jolly

      I think the Savita march took up a bit more space tbh. It wasn’t as controlled with barriers etc. but the estimate at the time was around 20’000 people.

      Either way – looking at the polls and referendums the majority of Irish people do want legislation for X – incl the risk of suicide and foetal abnormality. So no matter who shouts the loudest or who can get the most people to a demo the facts are that most people do want this legislation and more.

    2. Oisin

      Savita march also did not have a 2 months to organise and was almost completely advertised by word of mouth. This anti-choice rally spent thousands upon thousands.

      1. Sidewinder

        Absolutely. Social media and posters only, no national advertisements, and certainly no buses from the local mass.

  7. SiriusBrowne

    You people are unbelievable. You just cannot accept anything. The GARDA estimate was 25000, not the prolife movement or anyone else. So dont try to claim like u always do that prolife are liers- rather you are calling the gardai liers.

    So bloody what, can you not grow up for once and engage people on the issue instead of being petty and trying to deride the march. We do NOT do that to your marches however distasteful we may find them.

    Irrespective of whether it was in fact 25000 or 15000 this was still a huge turn out and that coupled with referenda and poll results is designed to show that a large section of this country if not the majority are prolife. It might be difficult to accept because everybody in your liberal middle class south county bubble shares your prochoice ideas but this is NOT where the country is at- end of.

    So stop being condesceding and smug and deriding and lying about prolife.

    1. VinLieger

      Link me to an official statment by the gardai that says the estimate was 25000, so far nobody has been able to and the only reports of this claim have been coming from the pro life movement

      1. Helen

        rte 9 o’clock radio news last night – garda estimated the march at 25,000 – it’s podcastable.

        1. Sidewinder

          No, it’s not. You saying it is doesn’t make it so. The people want legislation for x. F**king deal with it already!

    2. Leela2011

      Sirius, people on both sides are being petty about numbers and I don’t like when Broadsheet harp on about it either. However, the govt. can also see through the difference between Saturday’s vigil and the Pro-Choice march last year. I don’t care if the vigil gathered 50,000

    3. droid

      You really are deluded. here’s a few facts for you – dont choke::

      Referenda and polls have confirmed that the majority of people in this country favour abortion in the case of suicidal ideation.

      15-20,000 people showed up for a march demanding legislation before Christmas.

      The pro-life campaign pumped hundreds of thousands of US dollars into promoting and organising this march, bussed people in and offered expensive prizes for attendees.

      Given the funding differential both sides, a turnout of 15,000 for this ‘vigil’ is actually pretty pathetic compared to the never again march which was organised at short notice and had a tiny budget.

      Oh – btw, the pro-life crowd regularly question numbers and pass derisory comment about pro-choice events, as is their right.

    4. Senormorales

      What a hypocrite – you use the language “condesceding and smug and deriding and lying about prolife” – that is condescending in the extreme. Im from a working class background, definitely not south Dublin but alas I am pro-choice. If I was to make a stereotype like you have done I would suggest your a right wing religious nut. Shame people of your ilk dont protest as fervently in the name of abuse by the church. Of course saving unborn babies is more important than helping those whose lives have been destroyed by the church.

      1. Sidewinder

        Hear hear. I grew up far from the “south county” unless you count the pub in Cork where I grew up. Sirius your hypocrisy knows no bounds.

    5. martco


      15,000…25,000….999,127….it shouldn’t matter but it does matter to many….all part of the optics, isn’t it?

      I think what unsettles most people about your vigil thing there is the undeniable OBVIOUS level of events organisation going on and the $USD (ahem…sorry money) being spent by unseen secretive people (who have no mandate to be involved in any part of my or any other Irishman’s or Irishwoman’s citizenship and civic life and have no right to pursue any agenda in this jurisdiction) for what presumably was supposed to be a basic public demonstration over a matter of legislation.

      Personally I do find it amusing that the people who went thru the really obvious efforts made and money spent there at the weekend presumably think that people are so easily manipulated or coerced into a way of thinking. After all it’s not Nuremberg in the 1930’s is it? Individual persons these days have this yoke called the Internet and so much better enabled to carry out their own research and make their own decisions. That’s the big problem now for any movement that relies on influencing others with their ideas….not that easy to buy people anymore and it’ll only get harder as time passes I’m afraid :)

      1. Sido

        Sirius is upset that we quibble about his bogus figures.
        He wants Broadsheet users to stop being “condescending and smug”.
        Whilst overlooking the fact that its fairly difficult to be anything other than condescending and smug with someone as silly as him.

        You would think someone who spends a lot of his time whineing about this Broadsheets users would just f**k off.

        But no – Is it called “Stockholm Syndrome” or something? Sirius Syndrome maybe?

    6. DAN

      This isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, a majority wins issue, that’s not how democracy works. This is an issue of who’s values take precedence, and there’s no reason why either side’s should, because it’s a values issue, neither side can demonstrate that their values outweigh the others, in a democracy that means it gets left up to the individual, or, again, it at least should mean that.

  8. John

    Protests by the Left = Underestimate
    Protests by Catholic Right = Overestimate

    Garda Siochana give out numbers to suit the establishment’s agenda.

    1. Joe Duffy

      Confirmation bias for the establishment careerists. Seems like it could all easily tip if popular opinion leaned toward pro-choice. Our political leaders are too terrified to hazard a guess as to where opinion lies. The hypocrisy of it all – like the UN and world leaders taking issue with Arab military-dictatorships only after the social injustice is televised. The Wheel turns…and the more things change…

      If the Pro-life side were genuinely comfortable that their position represents the majority, then they would be proposing a referendum to reflect the current consensus.
      If it was 25,000 (including a large proportion of children), it is still only a drop in the context of over 2 million multi-denominational voters.

      Referendum please, and no more of this petty begrudging.

      1. SiriusBrowne

        Eh, the prolife movement have been calling for a referendum…..its the governmnet that refuse to bring it. PS we ARE the majority

        1. Sidewinder

          Can you read? We have had two on this. You’re not in the majority. Every friggin poll shows that. Deal with it.

  9. Humans Eh!

    Things like mathematics, physics and common sense are mere heresies to these people.
    When virgin birth, reanimation and transubstantiation are the basis for your philosophy and you are compelled to subject everyone else to your viewpoint facts simply do not matter.

    Makes me wonder about the biblical tale of the feeding of the 5000, secopnd/third hand eye witness reports, a political agenda and two thousand years of hyperbole may have exaggerated the ‘facts’ a bit methinks.
    Centurian’s estimates varied wildly.

    1. osi

      What a debasing, generalising, mean spirited comment.

      It is ok to be a member of the Catholic faith. It is ok not to be a member of the Catholic faith.

      It is not ok to be a member of the Catholic faith and judge other people because they are not.
      It is not ok to not be a member of a certain/any faith and degrade those who are.

      It is also ok to have an opinion on abortion that does not have to be affiliated with religion.

      ‘These people’ are people too, who are exercising their right to march, whether I or anyone else agrees to it or not, and I’m not sure that commenting on their abilities in Maths and Physics has much bearing on anything.

      1. Sarah K


        reading the comments on this is depressing. So many comments on this whole debate (and not this post alone) end up about each side scoring points off each other and insulting each other. I have commented before on this issue on Broadsheet but have stopped recently because of the circus it turns into.

        I wonder if any of these people so entrenched in slagging off the opposite side would be interested in practically helping women with crises preganancies? I know of charities who provide practical support on both sides of the fence who are crying out for funding. If you can’t contribute something positive and worthiwhile to the debate do something practical rather than squabbling like teenagers on a comments board. Insulting each other, and in turn being as intolerant as the people you are accusing of intolerance, does nothing to move the debate forward.

        1. Sidewinder

          Hear hear. Check out to help women going to the UK. I’d give you a crisis pregnancy place to donate to as well but the only ones that aren’t government funded are anti-abortion and many have been known to flat out lie about it. The best bet for supporting women who want to continue with their pregnancies without fear of financial difficulty is probably Bernardos.

          1. Sarah K

            Life Preganancy Care is government funded but receives very little considering the work they do and are always in need of donations. They are a pro-life organisation but do help women in severe financial difficulty along with free pregnancy testing, free counselling, housing etc. They also provide non-judgemental post-abortion counselling.

            I can attest that they are an honest organisation with integrity and while some might disagree with their pro-life stance they have helped countless women (and men) over the last 30 years.


        2. osi

          Couldn’t agree more Sarah K. The downright nastiness in some comments is just depressing, not to mention degrading to people on both sides. Point scoring is not the way forward, and just creates an ‘us and them’ attitude. We need to try and accept each other’s views and come to a reasonable solution.

          1. DAN

            Easy, if you’re anti-abortion, don’t have one. Pretty sure one side won’t accept that tho’, can you think of another more reasonable option?
            While I don’t like the nastiness this issue provokes, false equivalence remains false equivalence, and one side in this debate continuously lies, fudges, and bullies to get their view acceded to. Did you know that fetus testicles are allegedly now being transplanted into grown men, in spite of the fact that there seems to be no point in testicle transplants other than between twins?

  10. AMDG

    How are we supposed to take a morally bankrupt, agenda driven, socialist blog more seriously than An Garda Síochána? Only on

    1. Oisin

      Never been punched or kicked while taking part in peaceful protest by any member of the Broadsheet staff.

    2. nellyb

      then why do you bother reading “a morally bankrupt, agenda driven, socialist blog more seriously than An Garda Síochána”? you must like like it here, but in denial about it :-)

          1. Klarticus

            There’s only about eight people in the WSM though so your not really comparing like with like

  11. Klarticus

    When will the people providing these estimates start using the internationally recognised
    ” enough to comfortably fill X amount of football pitches” scale

  12. ferg

    This is pathetic.
    One shower of loons shouting at another shower of loons about who has the bigger marches.

  13. Elin

    Apparently most of the ‘people’ were actually droids remote-controlled by Youth Defence; others were animals dressed as OAPs. There is an app that proves this. Google it. None of the humans were there of their own free will. Broadsheet, please get over it; there were a LOT of people there…

  14. paul

    The wheels have come off the wagon of hate.

    It looks like fewer than 10k at this march. The Gardaí didn’t count and didn’t give Youth Offence a number they just made it up. The only thing to go viral from the march is the sickening, laughable fliers about lebanese baby killers. hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain, after flying in all those poor americans for nothing.

    Safe to say, massive fail.

  15. Bob

    Its pretty laughable that anyone would give World Solidarity Movement more trust than the Gardai. The WSM tagged there article ‘bigots’. How bias can you get! They have as little credibility as is possible.

    1. Sido

      @ Bob it says – “Subject: Pro-choice, Bigots”

      There’s a comma there, so they aren’t defining everyone there as being a Bigot.

      Though in fairness if you look at some of the photographs. I can tell you from experience, that some of that crowd, won’t be the most open minded of people.

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