Irish abuse protesters complain at treatment by Vatican police


MARGARET KENNEDY and Brendan Butler, two members of the seven-strong Irish delegation that attended last Sunday’s multinational protest by clerical sex abuse victims at the Vatican, are to register protests with the Department of Foreign Affairs in relation to how they were treated by Vatican police.

Ms Kennedy, a sex abuse survivor who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and is wheelchair bound, and Mr Butler both made their way up from the demonstration venue, just outside Castel Sant’Angelo, to St Peter’s Square.

Ms Kennedy wished to leave two stones in the square, in memory of sex abuse victims. Once inside the square, they were stopped by Vatican police who identified them as being linked to the Reformation Day protest, organised by the US victims’ group, Survivor’s Voice.

Given that no form of protest, political, religious or otherwise, is ever allowed by Vatican authorities within St Peter’s Square, Ms Kennedy and Mr Butler were stopped. Police asked them for their passports and took these away for verification. After 45 minutes, the passports were handed back and the two Irish protesters sent on their way.

Last night, Mr Butler said that, although the police behaviour had been courteous and correct, he still found it inexplicable that he and Ms Kennedy should have been asked for their IDs and stopped for 45 minutes.

While it is routine practice in Italy for police to stop citizens and ask for their identity papers, not everyone is happy about the treatment of the two Irish protesters.

Rome city councillor Gianluca Pecicola, a member of the leftist Sel (Left, Ecology and Liberty) party, yesterday called for an explanation “from the Rome head of police to explain just why [these] protesters have to be identified since this is an inexplicable incident which does damage to people who have already suffered terrible abuse and violence”.