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22 August 2018

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Papal visit an opportunity to address legacy of abuse - Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O'Neill.

“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." - Michelle O'Neill

The visit to Ireland by Pope Francis this weekend is an opportunity for the Catholic church to address the ongoing legacy of abuse, Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O'Neill has said. 

Michelle O'Neill made the comments ahead of the historic visit to Ireland of Pope Francis this weekend to attend the World Meeting of Families which is being held in Dublin. The Pope will also attend events in Knock as well as an open air mass in Phoenix Park. 

He is also expected to meet with victims and survivors of clerical sex abuse during his visit. 

Michelle O'Neill had been due to attend a reception for Pope Francis in Dublin Castle on Saturday which will be attended by An Taoiseach, ministers, representatives of the diplomatic corps and others but is now not able to attend on medical advice after breaking her leg. 

Sinn Féin will be represented at the event by Newry and Armagh MLA and former minister Conor Murphy. Martina Anderson and other Sinn Féin MEPs will also be in attendance. 

Speaking ahead of the Papal visit, Michelle O'Neill has said it is an opportunity for the Pope to meet with victims and address the legacy of abuse. 

“The visit of Pope Francis this weekend is a significant event for all of the Irish people and for Irish Catholics in particular.

“I, like many others, will listen with acute interest to what the Pope has to say on a range of social and religious issues. 

“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," she said. 

The altar for the Papal Mass in Phoenix Park.

The Sinn Féin Vice President also said the visit can also help contribute to the debate on shaping a new Ireland. 

“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," she explained. 

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