Northern Ireland news

Survivors of institutional abuse by the Catholic church to picket the Pope in Dublin

Pope Francis is to speak about not just clerical abuse, but abuse in institutions, mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries Picture by Andrew Medichini/AP

SURVIVORS of institutional abuse by the Catholic Church are to picket the Pope during his visit to Ireland after being "ignored" by organisers, as hopes fade that he will meet victims.

Pope Francis will visit Ireland on August 25 and 26 to attend the World Meeting of Families in Dublin and will visit Knock Shrine in Co Mayo.

Margaret McGuckin of Savia, representing survivors of clerical abuse, said the group had written to a senior official involved with the visit to press for a meeting but had not received a reply.

Then this week, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he was pushing for the Pope to meet a small representative group but admitted there may not be time in the itinerary.

He added Pope Francis will speak about various forms of abuse, not just clerical abuse, but abuse in institutions, mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries.

However, this sparked anger among survivors, and the Northern Ireland group is among those planning to protest.

"We will be heading down, we've already been in touch with certain people in Dublin and I know there are people coming over from England. We will be protesting.

"There are inquiries all over the world. We're not living in the 1960s and early 70s any more. The eyes of people are truly open and it's not all rosy in the Garden of Eden."

The failure for the Pope to meet victims was also criticised by Amnesty International Ireland director Colm O'Gorman.

He criticised the Catholic hierarchy for organising marketing, merchandising, licensing of the Pope's image while "not a jot of attention has been paid" to the idea of addressing the tens of thousands of people in Ireland "who have been so traumatised and harmed".

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