Protests greet start of congress in Dublin


A number of small protests were staged at entrances to the Eucharistic Congress at Dublin's RDS today.

Separate protests were staged by abuse survivors, a Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) group, Atheist Ireland and a parent and former Dublin school board member who wants his school named after someone other than former arcbishop of Dublin Dermot Ryan.

At the main entrance to the congress site, abuse survivor Paddy Doyle said nobody was listening to the protests. “Priests and bishops are just walking by,” he said.

It was “offensive” to hold the congress in Ireland at this time, he claimed. “There's s still an awful lot of rawness out there where the abused are concerned. We're still smarting...after the Redress Board, all the reports,” he said.

He also noted that the cost of the Congress had been put at almost €12 million, “And yet we hear the Church saying there is no money" when it comes to abuse victims, he said. "It's another institutional slap in the face," he said.

At the Anglesea Road entrance, a group of LGBT activists protested against the stance of the Catholic Church on homosexuality.

Spokesman Max Krzyanowski said they were protesting at the many “grave violations” in the separation of Church and State. “The congress presents a rare opportunity to do so where people at the top of the Church are concerned,” he said. “We have no desire to interfere with normal Catholics in the observance of their faith, which we respect.”

He said the Church was opposed to equality for LBGT citizens. He noted how, when civil partnership legislation was being introduced, Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady had sought exclusion on grounds of conscience for Catholic registrars who might be called on to preside at such ceremonies.

He referred to Section 37 in equality legislation which allowed the Church discriminate against LGBT people in schools, over 90 per cent of which they controlled at primary level. It was similar where LGBT nurses and doctors were concerned in Church-run hospital.

What the LGBT community was trying to do was "to change the discourse in the media to one of equal respect for all, regardless, of faith, gender, or sexual orientation," he said.

Jane Donnelly of Atheist Ireland said she was there in solidarity with the LGBT protesters "who are being discriminated against on the basis of religious prejudice".

At the Simmonscourt entrance to the RDS, Brendan Doris, a parent and former member of the board of management at a national school in Balgaddy, Co Dublin named after former archbishop of Dublin Dermot Ryan said she wants the name changed.

He has written to the current Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin asking that this be done because Dr Ryan was named 253 times in the Murphy report. "An accessory to a crime is as guilty of the crime," he said. "Archbishop Martin felt he couldn't support Cardinal Brady (in the recent controversy over the Cardinal's 1975 inquiries into abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth). Why should he support archbishop Ryan?”

He has written to Dr Martin asking that he do "the correct thing” by our children, schools and their staffs.

Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Dr Martin said "people are free to express themselves". 

" Everybody has a right to do that provided they do not disrupt proceedings," he said.