John Halligan TD says church is ‘in no position to lecture on rights’
Bishops criticised for failing to condemn harrassment of TDs by ‘pro-life mob’
John Halligan: hit out at the church for “harassment” of TDs over abortion legislation and in trenchant criticism said “threatening D deputies to induce them to vote in a particular way must surely be illegal”.
The Catholic Church has no right to be the State’s moral compass and is in no position to lecture anyone on human rights given its “blood-stained history”, the Dáil has been told.
Independent TD John Halligan hit out at the church for “harassment” of TDs over abortion legislation and in trenchant criticism said “threatening deputies to induce them to vote in a particular way must surely be illegal”.
He called on Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore to condemn the church “for attempting to intervene in the running of this State”, and said the church should “desist from harassing TDs faced with an already difficult time in making a decision on this legislation”.
Mr Gilmore, however, defended the church’s right to give its view on any issue of public importance but said its statements on the legislation were “exaggerated”. All churches and “all citizens of this State have every right to state their point of view to government on any issue which is of public importance”.
Mr Halligan said “this organisation has no right to be the State’s moral compass and is in no position to lecture anyone on human rights with the Catholic Church’s blood- stained history, from pre-medieval times to the Crusades across Europe and the Middle East”, their submission to the Nazi regime in Italy, and the “irreparable damage they have done to human beings, particularly children, across the world”.
He highlighted abuse of TDs. He had people call to his house after midnight, he said. There were serious incidents of verbal abuse, and some TDs had been ambushed outside their house or were spat at. “They’ve been threatened with having their home burned down and one has been threatened with having her throat cut.”
The church had called on the Government to abandon the party whip and attempted to compare the Government to a totalitarian regime. The bishops, he said, were claiming people would be misled on the debate and senior Vatican officials said Catholic TDs should resign if they supported the Bill.
The public had noted the irony of TDs being threatened with excommunication when no such threats were made to anyone within the church convicted of abusing and destroying the lives of children, he said.
But Mr Gilmore said “people have the right to state their views to legislators. Their job was to legislate in a fair way on behalf of everyone.