Parish priest says atmosphere around the referendum has been poisoned
An inspector from the Sheriff’s Office removed a crucifix from a pastoral centre used as a polling station in Dublin today, saying it might be “offensive”.
Fr Gerry Kane, parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary church in Harold’s Cross told The Irish Catholic that he went into the church’s pastoral centre just after nine this morning to see if everything was alright, only to discover that the crucifix had been removed from the wall.
The polling officer told him someone from the Dublin City Sheriff’s Office had removed it, and when Fr Kane was eventually able to contact the man, he was told that he had been “asked to remove it because it was offensive and would upset people”.
He volunteered to return and replace the crucifix, but was told there was “no need, as it was going up and staying up”.
Ms Elaine Coburn, the polling inspector who had vetted the pastoral centre the previous day to confirm its suitability as a polling centre told Fr Kane that the removal of the crucifix had been a “stupid” thing to do. “None of this should have happened,” she said.
While Fr Kane accepts the representative of the Sheriff’s Office had “realised he’d done wrong”, he said he was “apoplectic” at how the atmosphere around the referendum has been so poisoned, “with a strain of anti-Catholicism below the surface, that it has given rise to stupid actions like this”.
“What did they expect when they came to a pastoral centre?” he asked, adding, “It's not a swimming pool or a sports hall – are they doing this throughout the country?”
A spokesman from the Dublin City’s Sheriff’s Office said that the Sheriff’s Office has “no jurisdiction” over décor and fittings in halls and schools requisitioned for electoral purposes.