Monday 15 July 2019

Madigan speech on female priests is moved due to protest threats

Minister Josepha Madigan. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Minister Josepha Madigan. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Sarah Mac Donald

A talk due to be given by Minister Josepha Madigan on female priests at a venue owned by the Mercy Sisters has been forced to relocate following threatened protests by a conservative Catholic group.

Correspondence seen by the Irish Independent shows that the Mercy International Centre in Dublin, which is owned by the Mercy Sisters, cancelled a booking from the liberal Catholic group 'We Are Church Ireland' (WACI).

Members of the group were due to hear the Culture and Heritage Minister speak about the role of women in the Church on February 11.

However, WACI has been forced to switch the venue to a hotel following the Mercy Sisters' decision to cancel the booking.

Sr Mary Reynolds, director of the Mercy International Centre, said the decision was "reluctantly" taken following "many and vigorous representations" over the minister.

"Threats have been made of busloads of protesters being brought to the site," she told WACI.

There has been "some vitriolic comment" and "at least one of our staff has been intimidated by a caller", she added. She said that many of the representations referred to the minister's connection with the abortion referendum and bill, even though that is not the subject of her presentation.

In a statement, WACI said that the group "greatly regret the threats", adding that protesters appear to be "personalising" the role Ms Madigan played as co-ordinator of a group within Fine Gael campaigning for Repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Colm Holmes said WACI would move the meeting to a commercial hotel.

He stressed that the group "is a volunteer organisation with limited funding".

Ms Madigan was asked to comment on the row over her address next month but did not respond to the Irish Independent's request.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section