A solidarity vigil with a Ballyfermot church that flew a Pride flag last week will show there is no place for homophobia and bigotry in Ireland, according to organisers.
The Ballyfermot Assumption Parish Church faced an online backlash after sharing images of the flag on social media.
While many people voiced their support for the move, others were highly critical, claiming the flag was ‘anti-Catholic.’
The church took down the flag after the Dublin Archdiocese warned that only Papal or national flags can be flown on Church grounds.
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, vigil organiser and local Councillor Daithí Doolan said the event would “ensure that the right message of solidarity, support and welcoming is being sent out.”
“We are supporting our LGBT friends, colleagues, neighbours and members of our families who are in the LGBTI community,” he said.
“We want to say that in Ballyfermot, Dublin and Ireland, homophobia and bigotry does not contribute constructively to any community – and in particular to the folks of Ballyfermot.
“Our message is very clear. We are standing united, shoulder to shoulder, as a tolerant welcoming community that supports diversity as is encapsulated in that wonderful flag.”
Speaking at a mass ceremony last Sunday, parish priest Fr Adrian Egan said the church chose to fly the flag to send out a message to gay people that “God loves them.”
“We were conscious that there are gay men and women who live in our parish and their families and they have often told us of how hurt they have been maybe by the language that the Church has sometimes used in regard to them and how, maybe, they sometimes feel there is no place for them here and they feel excluded,” he said.
He said he hoped people would see the flag and think: “Oh, I am being remembered. I am being lifted up in God’s house. Maybe I am welcome there. Maybe I do have a place there.”
Cllr Doolan said it was a “wonderful statement” by the church.
“I think it sends out the right message of welcoming and support,” he said. “I think it is reflective of the new Ireland we are all in.
“I want to see Ireland of today more welcoming, loving and supportive to everybody. We live in a diverse society that needs to respected and a tolerant society that needs to be reflected upon and I think that is what Fr Adrian was doing and I support him.
“I want to see my children growing up in an Ireland where there is diversity, there is respect and homophobia is reduced to the rubbish bin of history, where it belongs - and I think he did the right thing.”
He said the vigil is an opportunity to show that Ballyfermot is a “welcoming, inclusive society.”
“Yes, there was a backlash on social media but I can tell you there is a very positive discussion in Ballyfermot today about it,” he said.
“People are being very supportive. Fr Adrian himself has commended the level of support he has got.
“I have got attacked on social media, absolutely – that is OK, I can live with it but I have also seen the phones hopping with support and I think, this Friday, people will be pleasantly surprised at the massive turnout we are going to get of rainbow flags and inclusivity.”
Also on the show, caller John said decision to fly the flag caused unnecessary friction.
“People feel there is too much of this going on," he said. "I voted for same-sex marriage because I wanted to give equality to people - that was the Christian thing to do.”
“But people now feel that there is no more need for gay-pride marches. There is no need for flags. You cannot discriminate against people gay or lesbian now in any situation.”
The solidarity vigil is due to be held this Friday at 6:30pm
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