Campaigner against clerical abuse given church award

Dr Margaret Kennedy recognised for service to ‘survivors of Church-related sexual abuse’

Greystones parishioner Dr Margaret Kennedy has been presented with an award for her work on behalf of survivors of clerical sexual abuse.

The Langton Award for Community Service was presented to her by Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson at St Patrick's Church, Greystones, Co Wicklow on Wednesday.

It is is among the Lambeth Awards given by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to acknowledge contributions to the Church and wider society. Dr Kennedy's award was for outstanding service to victims and survivors of Church-related sexual abuse.

In the late 1990s she founded Minister And Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS). It followed requests from people she worked with through Christian Survivors of Sexual Abuse (CSSA), which she founded in 1989.

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Her commendation noted that Dr Kennedy’s contribution to society went “well beyond” her work with MACSAS and included campaigning against disability inequality and abuse, inadequate housing provision for disabled people, and inadequacies in the HSE.

“Her advocacy strongly continues despite her experience of a very rare neuro-muscular degenerative disease (which she shares with her identical twin sister, Ann), being in constant pain and using a wheelchair,” it said.

Archbishop Jackson said he was "privileged to meet Dr Margaret Kennedy and to learn more of her work in a most vital and sensitive area of human life. Margaret tells her story with openness and conviction, with dedication and altruism. Her positivity is infectious," he said.

She had “shared with us her rich experience and capacity to change structures. In the present day, she gives us hope in the future,”, he said. He also had “great pleasure in conveying to Margaret the good wishes of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who knows both Kennedy sisters and who would have been with us had he not been elsewhere unavoidably today.”

A former nurse and social worker, when Dr Kennedy received her doctorate she was also presented with a symbolic wooden spoon to indicate, as she herself said, that “I’m still stirring things up from my wheelchair.”

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times