Diarmuid Martin warns against religious intolerance, anti-mask behaviour

Archbishop refers to attempts to overturn his car prior to Croke Park Eid event last July

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: ‘Some of those who took part in these anti-mask demonstrations were the same groups that attempted to overturn my car when I attended an Islamic gathering in Croke Park.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has warned against anti mask protesters and those "who do not understand, or do not want to understand, what religious tolerance means in the Ireland of today." This should, he said "concern all of us."

It would be wrong, he said “not to note the emergence of some negative trends in Irish society” He said that “when you look at some of the protests against mask-wearing and other restrictive measures, behind outward talk of respecting individual liberties there was also a strain of negation of the virus.”

He continued:"Some of those who took part in these anti-mask demonstrations were the same groups that attempted to overturn my car when I attended an Islamic gathering in Croke Park, " he said.

This was a reference to his attendance at the Eid celebrations in Croke Park last July when, as he arrived, he was met with screaming protestors, his car surrounded and banged on, with people in the group shouting “traitor” and other abuse at him.


Similarly last August Fr Stephen Farragher, parish priest of Ballyhaunis in Co Mayo, was confronted in his church grounds by a similar group because he had allowed two members of the local Muslim community to say a prayer at the end of a Mass there last April. It was for frontline workers and the eradication of Covid-19.

‘Foreign satanic cults’

The group identified themselves as Síol na hÉireann – The Irish Patriots Party – and accused him of “bringing foreign satanic cultists” into the church and of being a “heretic”. They carried a banner reading “No Sharia in Ireland”. The confrontation was videoed by members of the group who circulated it on social media.

Speaking on Thursday evening to an online gathering of the Dublin Council of Churches, marking their Annual Forum Day, Archbishop Martin also spoke of how the pandemic had brought specific challenges for Churches.

“Believers were rendered unable for lengthy periods to gather for religious services. There can be a justification for the closing of Churches, especially at crucial moments or to protect vulnerable people. Such measures should however be limited to the minimum period necessary,” he said.


It was also important “that society is helped to remember the contribution that public religious practice makes to the spiritual and personal wellbeing of believers. Religious leaders can be powerful agents of fostering responsible behaviour. They should also be in the forefront in addressing new needs as they emerge,”he said

The current situation offered an opportunity “to reflect on what kind of Church we need during the pandemic and afterwards. There will be no rushing back to Church services. The inability to attend public worship has led to creative use of social media to make services available on line,” the Archbishop said.

“We can rightly lament the loss of our ability to celebrate in our Cathedrals but we must also remember that the Lord has placed us in the unexpected new Cathedral of the harshness of human suffering.

“That is where we are called to be and to minister, and these new cathedrals will be strikingly more authentic and remarkably less clerical and institutional,” he said.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times