‘Proud’ priest who threw paint on Russian embassy gates says he won’t pay fine

Fr Fergal MacDonagh says Vladimir Putin will face ‘justice in this world or the next’

The Catholic priest who threw red paint over the gates of the Russian embassy in Dublin said he will frame any criminal summons that he receives.

Fr Fergal MacDonagh, the parish priest of Dolphin's Barn/Rialto, said he was told by gardaí yesterday he would be receiving a summons through the post.

He was also told to leave the front of the embassy or he would be arrested.

Fr MacDonagh threw the red oil-based paint on Friday afternoon while speaking on air to Liveline host Joe Duffy.

The priest said he was “delighted and proud” over his actions, especially as the embassy is, legally speaking, sovereign Russian territory.

He described the Russian embassy as a “building that is spreading lies, deceit and misinformation about what is happening”.

He said he will not pay any fine. “My defence is provocation. I was provoked into doing it. I’m not the person who should be in court,” he told The Irish Times.

“Putin should be before an international tribunal for crimes against humanity. He is a terrorist.

“The Russian people are good, decent people. It is not being done in their name. It is being done by somebody who is unhinged.

"I had no other option. I am old, I can't go and fight. I wouldn't even make it to Ukraine, but I could go to the Russian embassy and pour red paint symbolising the blood of the innocent, men women and children who are being killed.

“Putin is a father and a grandfather. He can’t be that bad. He must have some decency in him.”

Fr MacDonagh said many of his clerical colleagues who had studied with him at Clonliffe College messaged him to say that they were proud of what he had done.

Enthusiastic welcome

He was given an enthusiastic welcome by the thousands assembled outside the GPO protesting at the Russian invasion.

He told the crowd that he was motivated to act when he woke up on Friday morning to hear that Russian forces had bombed a maternity hospital during the night. The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital is part of his parish.

“It is appalling and it is the work of evil what is happening in Ukraine. It is a war crime,” he said.

“Putin will face justice in this world or the next. I have been frightened and anxious all week. We must protest. The people of Ukraine must know that they are not alone. We are on their side. We stand with you. We are better than Putin.”

Fr MacDonagh told the crowd that he was a man of faith and he asked those present to pray for peace, irrespective of their religion.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times