No time for celebration, say clerical abuse survivors and gay rights group


PROTESTS:MORE THAN 100 people from a variety of organisations protested yesterday outside the opening Mass of the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.

The event attracted more than 20,000 participants from around the world. Protests were held at all three entrances of Dublin’s RDS.

Carrying a yellow-and-white papal flag with the words “Vatican flag of Shame” on it, members of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse (Soca) gathered at the Simmonscourt Gate. John Kelly, co-ordinator of Soca, said they had decided to hold a small and dignified protest.

“We are representing the victims here today; emotions are very high and if they had come themselves, anything could have happened,” he said.

It was not yet a time for celebration and renewal in the church, Mr Kelly added. “It is time for examination of the past and of the people who are in control of the present.”

He called for the resignation of Cardinal Seán Brady, Primate of All Ireland, who was involved in an investigation into paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth in the 1970s.

At the Angelsea Road entrance, more than 50 protesters held up signs calling for equality for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Max Krzyzanowski, organiser with campaign group LGBT Noise, said the Catholic Church involved itself heavily in political and secular matters in the Republic. “We feel it is time for clear demarcation between religious affairs and secular society,” he said.

Cardinal Brady had demanded the inclusion of a “conscience clause” in recent civil partnership legislation which allowed civil registrars to refuse to officiate at same-sex civil partnerships.

“It’s interesting to note this conscience was not apparent to him when he was forcing children to sign confidentiality agreements concerning the abuse they suffered at the hands of clerics,” Mr Krzyzanowski added.

Mark Fitzpatrick of Reformation Ireland, an all-Ireland Christian organisation, handed leaflets to those entering through the Simmonscourt gate. The organisation was present not to protest but “to be of help to people”, he said.

At the same gate, Brendan Doris, from Lucan in Dublin, protested with his family about the name of his children’s local school, Archbishop Ryan National School, in Balgaddy. It was named after Archbishop Dermot Ryan, who was criticised in the Murphy report on child sexual abuse for his handling of abuse cases.

“How can we discuss child protection in a school so named?” he asked.

At the main entrance to the congress, Seán Irsach, a child abuse survivor, said he wanted those attending to know the Catholic Church had raped and abused quite freely and were a “law unto themselves”.

“I’d like to see the whole Catholic Church closed down for once and for all,” he said.