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Friday 20 September 2019

Angry abuse victims heckle Martin outside Easter Mass

Anne-Marie Walsh

FURIOUS abuse survivors heckled Archbishop Diarmuid Martin when he arrived to celebrate the biggest event in the church calendar.

Those who were raped and physically and emotionally abused by members of the clergy demanded he recognise the church's shame when he turned up for Easter Sunday mass at St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin.

Protesters tied 1,000 tiny shoes to railings outside the cathedral to symbolise generations of children who fell victim to institutional abuse.

Inside, some protesters brought the tiny shoes to the altar during mass.

Their anger was not only directed at the archbishop and the Catholic hierarchy who they accuse of a cover-up.

Mass-goers, including parents and children holding Easter eggs and dressed in their Sunday best, were visibly shaken when confronted as they entered and left the church.

Abuse victim Eamon Reid (67) stood on the steps holding banners that read 'Hypocrites for Jesus' and displayed quotes from the bible on the fate of those who harmed children.

"Hang your heads in shame," one of the protesters shouted at the crowds leaving the church.

"My mother committed suicide due to this organisation.

"Out and out hypocrisy to claim to be Christian. A whole country abused and still in denial. Fifty years of raping children.

"This was the largest paedophile ring in Ireland."

Another yelled: "Children were raped by crucifixes."

Some of those leaving the church confronted the protesters, but there was little sign of reconciliation as they left.

"What you got wrong is that it wasn't the whole church," said one mass-goer.

"It was a few."

'Bad apples'

William Kershaw, who said he was locked up in dark rooms for days at a time when he lived at a number of institutions, wanted to emphasise that much of the clergy were not to blame, and he praised a nun called Sr Esther who helped him turn his life around.

Kevin Flanagan from Ballymun, whose brother was abused in an industrial school in Artane, said that not all priests had abused but many "bad apples" were complicit in the 'cover-up' that followed.

He called for the bishops to be charged with withholding information on crimes.

Robert O'Mongain, whose mother was placed in an institution when she was orphaned, said his life would never be the same.

"I don't want to get into what happened to her," he said. "But she'd probably still be here today if it wasn't for the Catholic Church."

Marie Therese O'Loughlin, who was baptised in the Pro Cathedral and suffered physical abuse at an industrial school in Goldenbridge in Dublin, said the archbishop had promised to look into her case.

She said a garda at the church had told her not to go to communion, perhaps fearing she might cause an uproar.

"I don't think the garda had the right to ask that of me," she said.

"You can't blame the people here who are showing their anger but all I want is my suffering to be recognised."

Irish Independent

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