Cork Councillors oppose motion to remove prayer and crucifix from meetings

Cork Councillors oppose motion to remove prayer and crucifix from meetings
Brandon Scott and Chai Brady


Two Cork City Councillors have criticised a newly-elected Social Democrat Councillor’s motion calling for the removal of the crucifix in the chamber and the discontinuation of the prayer said before meetings.  One Councillor described it as an orchestrated plan to get the mainstream media “whipped up” and “attack the Church again”.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Fianna Fáil Councillor Tony Fitzgerald, who has personally met the Pope, confirmed that he will vote to maintain the prayer and that he would also not be in favour of removing the crucifix in the chamber and said that he has never been subjected to complaints by members of the public about its presence during council meetings.

“This is not the first time it has been raised in council,” he said. “I will be voting to continue saying the prayer and having the silent reflection. I think it’s an appropriate way of reflecting before we start the meeting. I would also not be in favour of removing the crucifix.

“It has not been raised by the public, and since this has been raised again a lot of people have contacted me to say they would prefer it to stay so I would be in favour of that. I don’t hear any major outcry from the public for its removal.”

Cllr Ken O’Flynn of the Independent Ireland party slammed the motion as being an act of “posturing beyond posturing” when there are many other worthy issues that, in his opinion, merited recognition over this one.

“We had a Councillor who is newly elected who’s only in a wet week. This is his first official meeting after the AGM that we had last month. The Councillor doesn’t know how procedures work in Cork City Council. He’s put down a motion and I’d say before he even wrote the motion he wrote the press release and did all of the radio shows, both local and national.”

Cllr O’Flynn is convinced that the underlying objective of the motion is to whip the media up into another Church and state debate – a debate that he believes was settled in 1972 with the removal of the “special position” the Church enjoyed in the Constitution.

“The entire motion is built around Church and state – that question was answered in 1972 as far as I’m concerned. It’s so farcical and bizarre that this is his first motion when there’s such important issues in our city.

“If he’s an atheist, all very well. Why do a piece of wood and a figurine upset him so much? This is posturing beyond posturing. It’s about trying to get the mainstream media whipped up and attack the Church again,” he said.

The motion will once again be debated in September.