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'We should not tolerate intolerance': Archbishop recalls being the subject of 'violent' anti-mask protest

The incident happened at the Eid al-Adha celebration in Croke Park in July.
Oct 16th 2020, 6:32 PM 29,586 16

ARCHBISHOP DIARMUID MARTIN has expressed concerns that anti-mask protesters are misusing Catholicism to make others in society feel unwelcome.

Martin issued a statement last night criticising demonstrators who were part of a group whom he said “tried to overturn” his car at the Eid al-Adha celebration in Croke Park earlier this year.

He was one of a number of religious leaders who gave speeches at the first celebration of the Muslim festival at the venue in July.

A number of anti-mask, anti-Covid restriction demonstrations have been taking place in Dublin for the past few weekends, as well as in other counties

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1′s Drivetime this evening, Martin recalled how he was met by a group of people “shouting, screaming, [and] banging at” his car when he arrived at Croke Park for the celebration.

“Somebody then saw me, and they immediately then surrounded the car and were banging at it, pushing it, shouting and getting in the way, being quite insulting and violent,” he explained.

Martin said that he was not worried about his own safety at the time, because gardaí were present, but expressed concerns about how such protests were impacting Muslims and immigrants in Irish society.

He suggested that the demonstrators were motivated “very clearly” by a “far right ideology” because of their attitudes towards immigrants and people of different faiths.

“What worried me, and why I mentioned it last night, isn’t about what happened to me; but there’s a trend there that all of us should be concerned about. We should not tolerate or put up with religious intolerance,” he said.

“These people, who are present at all sorts of other events and protests, there’s a level of negativity and violence and they’re generating fear and anti-immigration [sentiment], and at the moment we don’t need negativity and fear.”

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The archbishop also spoke about his decision to issue a statement last night, more than two months after the celebration took place in Croke Park.

“I feel that I can say something, and should say something,” he said.

“I don’t want these people bringing their religion and Catholicism into other negative sides of our society. People need something very different. I’m always afraid of negativity and people who use violence in that way…

“Anybody who begins to put an ideology which drives people away from responsible behaviour, they’re becoming a danger in society.”

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Stephen McDermott

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