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Row over 'Sacred Heart' statue at cemetery

A ROW has erupted over the erection of a sculpture, purportedly depicting the Last Supper, in a Church of Ireland cemetery that contains both Catholic and Protestant graves.

The white marble sculpture was unveiled at an ecumenical service marking the completion of a major community restoration project on the old Killenummery Graveyard near Dromahair in Leitrim.

But some members of the Church of Ireland in the area have expressed their disquiet about the image showing the Sacred Heart behind a table, claiming it is insulting to their faith.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is predominantly practised by Roman Catholics.

Yesterday, a Church of Ireland clergyman, Reverend Noel Regan, who is based in north Sligo, revealed that the bishop's representative was now involved in the row.

He claimed that permission for the sculpture had not been sought from the representative Church of Ireland body, in accordance with the rules.

He also insisted it was not a sculpture of the Last Supper but "a statue of the Sacred Heart, with a table and bowl in front of it to depict the Last Supper".

"If there is a tiny minority of people whose sensitivities have been walked on, we have to bear that in mind.

"The committee got permission to clean up the graveyard, but they did not have permission to do anything structural.

"If I had known for one second what was planned, I would have warned them because I knew it would be controversial," he said.

Local Killenummery parish priest, Father Vincent Connaughton said he did not believe the sculpture should be removed.

"I don't think it should be taken down. It was put there in good faith. We are getting caught up in an argument that is unimportant.

"We have to look at the majority too. It is Church of Ireland property, but there are Roman Catholic people buried there and I have not had one letter or phone-call of complaint about it," he said.

Irish Independent