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Sunday 22 September 2019

Archbishop slams 'evil gangs who kill on streets'

Diarmuid Martin with John and Gwyneth Heffernan, Blanchardstown, and Holly Byrne at the Knights of Columbanus Christmas dinner in the RDS, Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren
Diarmuid Martin with John and Gwyneth Heffernan, Blanchardstown, and Holly Byrne at the Knights of Columbanus Christmas dinner in the RDS, Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Sarah MacDonald

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has hit out at the ongoing gang warfare in the capital, condemning the "sick individuals who murder openly on our streets" and the "evil individuals who instruct and pay them".

In his Christmas homily, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin asked if the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace, meant anything to them.

His comments were made as armed members of an elite Garda unit patrolled the streets of the capital over Christmas in an effort to prevent further bloodshed in the Hutch-Kinahan feud which has already claimed 11 lives in 14 months.

On Thursday night, the latest victim, Noel Kirwan, was shot dead in west Dublin.

On Friday, Dr Martin told RTÉ Radio that the feud was linked to "a multi-million euro business of death called the drugs trade".

Speaking at St Mary's Pro- Cathedral in Dublin yesterday, the Archbishop listed a litany of social ills afflicting Irish society.

He asked if there was any way those who are victims of domestic violence or sexual violence, of road violence or the violence of economic exploitation, can experience the joy of Christmas.

"Our city is marked by homelessness, but also indeed for many by hopelessness.

"We have very high suicide rates and so many are searching for real hope in the face of an economic crisis, in the face of loneliness and emptiness and the illusion of drugs or empty consumerism," he warned.

In a reference to how the economy is failing so many, he said: "Technical progress must be matched by progress in true humanism. True progress is progress for all."

He said believers cannot be satisfied simply to celebrate Christmas "like an anaesthetic which hides pain for a moment or like an eruption of spending which ends up leaving us only with a hangover of emptiness".

He also questioned how God, as the Prince of Peace, could be explained to a war-torn world where the "perennial desire of humankind for peace is being martyred daily" and the ambition to save succeeding generations from the "scourge of war" was rendered a "cynical, empty dream".

Posing the question "Where is our God?", Dr Martin said the problem is that people look for God in the wrong places.

The shepherds at the first Christmas were led to "a small baby living without not just the external signs of power: he is born with only the simplest necessities in total contradiction of what we are led to consider power".

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Armagh paid tribute to Irish "messengers of hope" in the Navy, and UN peacekeepers in Lebanon who have helped the "traumatised" and "survivors of conflict".

In his homily for Christmas Day at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin said that if Christmas is to be more than sentimentality, tinsel and lights, then Christmas worship should challenge people to play their part in "making the world a better place".


"Anyone following the news in recent days cannot fail to be moved by the sight of fellow human beings fleeing for their lives - from Aleppo to Berlin, and from Turkey to Egypt," he said.

Closer to home, Dr Martin said the plight of people "forced to live and sleep on the streets makes us thankful to have a warm home, food on the table and a bed to rest in at night".

He was "heartened" by the courageous work of the charity Trócaire through its partners in Syria and Iraq in helping traumatised victims and survivors of conflict, and he sent good wishes for Christmas to the "brave Irish UN peacekeepers in Lebanon and other troubled places".

He also saluted the "tremendous humanitarian work of our Navy, which has helped to rescue thousands of migrants from the Mediterranean".

Elsewhere, the Church of Ireland Primate paid tribute to 2016's commemorations which had provided people with the "freedom to remember and the grace to grieve".

At Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Archbishop Michael Jackson said tens of thousands of people at home and abroad, together with friends of Ireland worldwide, had been enriched by this experience of knowing and engaging with commemoration. The history of the State had been told with objectivity and with respect as people recalled the 1916 Rising and the Battle of the Somme, he said.

Irish Independent

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