Organizers were amazed when 25,000 people attended a pro-life rally in Dublin on Saturday, including the Tyrone football team boss Mickey Harte.

The Vigil For Life event was called to highlight opposition to any change on abortion legislation as the Irish government considers reform.

Irish state broadcaster RTE reports that the organizers said the event was ‘intended as a means to express concern about and opposition to plans to legislate for abortion in certain circumstances.'

Speakers at the Merrion Square rally included the GAA boss Harte whose daughter Michaela was murdered on her honeymoon in Mauritius two years ago.

Harte told the crowd: “Ireland is almost unique in the Western world in looking out for, and fully protecting, two patients during a pregnancy - a mother and her unborn child.

“We are here to oppose the unjust targeting of even one unborn child’s life in circumstances that have nothing to do with genuine life-saving medical interventions."

Pro-Life campaign leader Caroline Simons told the crowd: “Claims by the Government that abortion is needed to treat threatened suicide in pregnancy were completely demolished at last week’s Oireachtas (parliament) hearings on abortion.

“There is no evidence whatever that suggests that abortion reduces the mental health risks of unwanted or mis-timed pregnancy.

“But there is evidence that abortion increases the risk of future mental health problems for a significant number of women.”

The report adds that Bernadette Goulding of the Women Hurt organisation spoke in personal terms about her own experience of abortion.

She told the crowd there has been much talk about the risk of suicide before an abortion, but in her experience, she said, there is a much greater risk of suicide after an abortion.

A smaller group of around 200 pro-choice campaigners staged a counter demonstration nearby.

Earlier over 100 activists gathered in Dublin to plan a campaign aimed a securing abortion rights for Irish women.

The Abortion Rights Campaign told RTE that forthcoming legislation on abortion must allow doctors to perform terminations in situations where risk to the life of the mother is not immediate or inevitable.

It added such circumstances would include cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality or when a woman chooses not to continue with a pregnancy.