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Priest orders TD not to help with communion


Derek Keating

Derek Keating

Derek Keating

A PROMINENT Government TD has been told to stand aside as a minister of the eucharist by his parish priest over his support for the controversial abortion legislation, the Sunday Independent has learnt.

Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid West Derek Keating was accused of being involved in a "Nazi regime" by another priest in his constituency, who has since stopped him from using a parish hall to hold his constituency clinics.

Mr Keating, who described himself this weekend as a committed Catholic, said he was horrified at the attempts to intimidate him by ultra right-wing elements in the church.

In July, Mr Keating's home was targeted by pro-life campaigners and he was forced to move out for a number of days. He told the Sunday Independent: "In July I was forced to leave my home. I should not have to leave my ministry, which is deeply important to me. I don't want to be doing this, raising this issue in this manner, but I feel it is very important I take a stand. There remains in the church a small element within that threaten, bully and abuse and it is totally unacceptable."

The Sunday Independent has confirmed that Mr Keating was contacted last Saturday evening by Father Peter O'Reilly, parish priest in St Mary's in Lucan, who called on him not to fulfil his duties as a eucharistic minister given the controversy during the summer around the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

Despite repeated attempts to contact Fr O'Reilly this weekend, he was not available for comment.

In separate correspondence, Mr Keating was severely criticised by Fr Anthony Reilly, parish priest in St Philomena's Parish in Palmerstown, where he holds clinics for supporting the controversial legislation.

In one letter sent to Mr Keating, Fr Reilly who declared himself to be a Fine Gael voter since 1977, said the party has engaged in a "terrible deception".

Fr Reilly wrote: "I was satisfied that Fine Gael was a christian, democratic, party which to the present day is affiliated to the European People's Party.

"What we have witnessed over the past while is certainly not democratic but more akin to a Nazi regime.

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"There has been a terrible deception from your party in referring to directly procured abortion as protection of life when directly procured abortion will be permitted until virtually the time of birth.

"Consequently, I will no longer be in a position to vote for Fine Gael and will do all in my power to keep the events of 11/12 July present in people's minds in the future.

"With great sadness I write this letter, Yours sincerely, Fr Anthony Reilly."

Then, in late September, Mr Keating received a letter from St Philomena's Parish Centre Committee saying that in light of his support for the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill and some unpaid fees, the licence agreement for his use of the parish hall for his clinics was being "rescinded with immediate effect".

Mr Keating insists that he had repeatedly asked for invoices in order to issue the cheque, as it needed to be properly accounted for in Leinster House (as the taxpayer pays an allowance for such clinics).

He also said the amount of money involved is minuscule.

On October 8, Mr Keating received another letter from the parish committee saying that the "issuing of invoices would create an unnecessary administrative overhead and cost". The letter added that the requirement to meet the obligations of the licence agreement were "not contingent on the issue of an invoice".

The letter went on to say: "Notwithstanding what you state in your letter, it remains the case that your support for the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 conflicts with the Catholic ethos of the parish centre."

It continued: "It remains the position that your permission to use the parish centre has been rescinded with immediate effect.

"Likewise, it remains the case that it will not be possible to reinstate the licence agreement. It would be interesting to read the social teaching of the Catholic Church that allege (sic) supports you in voting in the Dail in favour of directly procured abortion."

The Sunday Independent was informed that Fr Reilly is out of the country this weekend and "not contactable".

Last month, this newspaper revealed how Government TDs were "discouraged" by members of the clergy from receiving communion in the wake of the controversial bill's passage.

The spokesman for the Irish bishops, Martin Long, has insisted there had been no diktat about whether politicians should or should not receive communion or whether they should be excommunicated.

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