Jonathon Van Maren

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Irish pro-lifer put his career on hold for more important work

Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon

May 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- As Ireland’s pro-life movement works frenetically to get their supporters out to the polls on May 25 for the referendum on the Eighth Amendment, the Save the 8th Campaign and dozens of pro-life organizations are putting boots on the ground all day, every day. Many have quit their jobs or taken leaves of absence in order to give the campaign their all — and one of these pro-lifers is Ray McIntyre, a middle-aged professional salesman who decided to take responsibility for turning the area of Mullingar and Country Westmeath into a solid win for the “No” vote.

When I met him, he was leading a team of locals he’d recruited to canvass voters and encourage pro-lifers to show up on May 25, each wearing red “Vote No” vests and wielding large stacks of information brochures. The entire town of Mulligan had multiple pro-life signs on nearly every lamp-post — there was only room for a handful of “Yes” signs by the time the pro-life activists had covered the town. He knew he’d face some opposition, Ray knows that this campaign is essential to protect preborn human lives in Ireland. “I thought, am I a man, or am I a mouse?” he told me. The following is an interview with Ray McIntyre on his efforts to save the Eighth Amendment.

When and why did you decide to work full time on the referendum?

I had it in my mind in early 2013 after the Irish pro-life movement had lost a legislative campaign (a Dail/parliamentary vote, not a referendum) with the then-coalition government on so-called "limited abortion" on the grounds of suicidal ideality.

The next battle over the repeal of the Eighth Amendment was looming and it was the next planned step by the abortion industry, the media, and the political elite, so I knew there was a final showdown coming in the next few years. So I visualised being able to devote nine or six months of my life volunteering to help organize campaigning in my local counties of Longford & Westmeath (total population circa 150,000) 

However, I was deeply involved in a struggling family business, a new car dealership ravaged by the recession. Still the dream persisted and as the worldwide abortion lobby focused on our little nation, funded by George Soros and friends like Amnesty International, I grew more determined that I was not going to stand idly by and see multi-billionaires destroy our unique Irish pro-life culture without giving them the fight of our lives. I'll take on Mr. Soros any day, and the bigger the challenge the more I thrive on it.

As things worked out, our family business led by my brother and I found a way out of the savage recession 2016 by taking an opportunity to sell our firm. I found myself "out of work" and between careers pending starting a new business. I decided that before embarking on a totally new career I would wait to fight the looming referendum, which was 18 months out. I bided my time and made plans. So here I am today having had the unique honor and privilege of having been able to help lead our local pro-life campaign over the last nine months virtually full time living on my own resources.

What was your strategy for Mullingar and surrounding areas?

That's still a secret! But briefly: Over a nine-month period to knock on every door and to canvass (and recruit support) in the three large towns and then the secondary towns and villages in counties Longford and Westmeath. A fabulous canvass team of about six great people started on their own initiative the door-to-door encounters, two by two last August and today we have a panel of 30 trained, experienced canvassers. We have finished most of the big towns and will do a faster second canvass in the remaining weeks before the vote.

People ask how we are doing, and I reply that if volunteers were not enjoying very positive experiences "on the doors" then there is no way our team would have grown to 30 or that volunteers would remain motivated and fresh over six months, two nights per week. Every Sunday morning since mid-January another volunteer team have done leafleting at up to four church gates per Sunday as we traversed our two counties.

We have had regular "street sessions" with a table set up with the brilliant "Touch of Life" baby models. These street encounters were very popular. We have had a number of "pro-life roadshows" come through for street canvassing and local press photo ops. We made the front page of our main local paper only last week. We aim to give the press what they need -- a colorful, happy picture with lots of local faces prominent in it. If you work with them in a positive manner you have a better chance to get them to help you despite a default bias in media generally.

Most crucially in the last six weeks of our campaign has been our "lamp-post poster "campaign. This is "our TV" and "our media editorial page" an opportunity within strict referendum rules to broadcast our messages far and wide from professionally produced posters. My aim five weeks ago when the poster campaign started was "to dominate the skyline of our major towns" and to keep "layering on" new eye-catching visuals and messaging in phases in order to give all the floating voters a unique reason to Vote No on May 25.

What sort of response have you gotten from canvassing?

Averaging out over six months I could say we had a 60 percent to 70 percent "pro-life response" with maybe a 10 percent hard "pro-choice" or "Vote Yes" with the balance indifferent, undecided or wanting more information. Now the big question is how much our very positive national door-to-door campaign will translate into "No voter" turnout on the day. This is where the highly visible poster campaign comes into play, to reinforce the “No” message on a daily basis in the weeks before the vote.

How are local campaigners like yourself going to impact the referendum?

Our national grassroots/ground campaign and poster campaign can only work with local leadership on the ground making local decisions. It’s a wonderful example of the Principle of Subsidiarity in action. With our "ground game" we hope the national pro-life "air game" in the media and social media will combine into a "perfect storm" of positive "Vote No synergy."

What is the most common misperception of what is going on outside of Ireland?

The fact that the "European media" is even more biased toward the abortion lobby, with a routine, unquestioning acceptance of an “abortion-first” culture by the likes of the BBC and other national broadcasters. In Ireland, we are virtually unique in Europe with our constitutional protection for our unborn brothers and sisters. Hence, we are routinely the object of curiosity (and hostile, biased reporting) by European and international media.

Our own home-based media is overwhelmingly biased toward extremely liberal abortion with soft-focused campaign "interviews" for abortion proponents and hard-nosed, interruption-filled interrogations for pro-life spokespeople. Some years ago, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith visited Ireland. He remarked that in all his years in the cut and thrust of U.S politics he had never experienced such an utterly hostile media on the abortion issue as he experienced in Ireland.

So there you have it -- we are up against it! But we can still win!

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Jonathon Van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.