Pope’s visit an opportunity to meet victims and address issues – O’Neill
Commenting on the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland this weekend Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill said:
“The visit of Pope Francis this weekend is a significant event for all of the Irish people and for Irish Catholics in particular.
“It had been my intention to attend Dublin Castle and mass in the Phoenix Park as part of the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland and the World Meeting of Families.
“However, I regret due to a broken leg and restricted mobility, that I will now not be able to attend.
"Sinn Féin will be represented by senior Sinn Féin elected representatives, including Conor Murphy who will attend in my place.
“I, like many others, will listen with acute interest to what the Pope has to say on a range of social and religious issues.
“While reflecting on our personal beliefs we must also recognise that as political leaders and as legislators, we have a responsibility beyond our own individual views to deliver equality, rights and respect for all sections of the Irish people.
“We must specifically acknowledge the damage done by the Catholic Church to the lives of many women and children in the mother and baby homes, the Magdalene Laundries and a succession of abuse scandals and cover ups.
“The visit of Pope Francis is an opportunity to address these issues, to meet with victims and survivors, to fully acknowledge their suffering and the damage done, to end the coverups and to commit to full redress, north and south.
“Ireland has changed enormously since the last visit by a Pope to Ireland, politically, economically and socially.
“We now have a peace process and an increasingly progressive, modern and outward-looking society. We must build on this while retaining those positive traditions and values that help to define us and which have withstood the test of time and adversity.
“The visit of the Pope Francis can and should contribute to the new and positive relationship which has been developing between the Irish state and the Catholic Church.”