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Protesters Call on Bishop to Stand Down
The Irish Times - Saturday, January 23, 2010

Protesters outside the Conference of Bishops meeting in Maynooth yesterday.

Protesters outside the Conference of Bishops meeting in Maynooth yesterday.
Photograph: Cyril Byrne

JAMIE SMYTH Social Affairs Correspondent

ACTIVISTS GATHER: THE PROTESTERS arrived early at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, yesterday morning to unfurl their placards and banners denouncing clerical child sex abuse, the Catholic Church and Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan.

Setting up camp at the gates of the National Seminary of Ireland, the small group of victims, friends of victims and activists urged the Conference of Bishops meeting inside to do the right thing.

“Until Bishop Drennan resigns, the future of the Roman Catholic Church will be overshadowed. We are hoping the bishops’ conference will put pressure on [Bishop] Drennan,” said Brendan Butler, a social activist who organised the protest to coincide with the meeting.

He said he did not think the church recognised the seriousness of the crisis prompted by the recent publication of the Murphy report. “We need to hear the bishops call for an investigation into all the dioceses in Ireland. There are big questions about what happened in the Diocese of Raphoe,” said Mr Butler, who held a colourful banner with the simple message “Bishop Drennan Time to Go”.

Kevin Flanaghan wore a blue T-shirt with the words “Artane 1954: the boy with the broken arm” and “in loving memory of Michael ‘Mikey’ Flanaghan” written on the front and back of it.

“I’d a brother in Artane in the 1950s. His arm was broken in three places, his head was busted and he was locked up for eight days on his own.

“My mother was not allowed to see him . . . We were told the whole thing was an accident, but we know it was no accident. We want justice,” said Mr Flanaghan, who added that he wanted to see people in court.

At lunchtime the protesters were visited by the executive secretary to the Conference of Bishops, Fr Eamon Martin.

“The bishops saw the protesters on the way in and they want to know who they are and what their grievances are,” Fr Martin told The Irish Times.

Mr Butler responded by saying he could deliver the message in person to bishops at the meeting.

He was not invited inside.

A few hours later, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin came out and spoke to the protesters.

“I gave him a piece of my mind,” said Mr Flanaghan.