Flanagan backs church ban on political party collections
Published 15/07/2015 | 02:30
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has backed calls by a Catholic diocese to end political party church-gate collections.
Mr Flanagan was responding to a statement by the Diocese of Elphin, led by Bishop Kevin Doran, for political parties to "go and collect somewhere else".
It questioned political parties continuing to collect from mass-goers while at the same time moving for legal changes on issues such as marriage and the right to life of the unborn, which conflict with church teaching.
The comments indicate potential tensions over the issue of abortion.
The challenge would mainly affect Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael which have traditionally collected large sums at the church gate. The national collections have also been a hallmark of the parties' presence in the communities and traditionally were seen as a statement of the informal links between the Catholic Church and the State.
The diocese conceded that the political parties had no obligation to uphold church policy in their activities. But neither had the church any obligation to help fund the parties.
Mr Flanagan said he fully agreed that political collections should not be made outside churches.
"Politicians waving buckets for coins as people go to worship is out-dated and demeaning and more redolent of the 1950s," Mr Flanagan told the Irish Independent.