Residents to hold solidarity protest after Dublin church told to stop flying Pride flag

Residents to hold solidarity protest after Dublin church told to stop flying Pride flag

The photo of the two flags flying outside Our Lady of the Assumption, Ballyfermot. Picture: Ballyfermot Assumption Parish/Facebook

A solidarity event is taking place in Ballyfermot in Dublin today after a church in the area faced backlash after displaying the Pride Flag outside.

The Ballyfermot Assumption Parish raised the Pride flag alongside the Irish flag at the entrance to the church.

Parish Priest Fr Adrian Egan spoke at mass on Sunday and said it is a sign that everyone is welcome.

During a meeting of the parish council, Fr Egan said they were conscious that LGBTQ+ people living in the local community and their families had expressed their feelings of hurt and exclusion when it comes to the church.

"We wondered was there anything we could do to send out a message to them that god loves them. So, we decided that we have two flagpoles out there so we would put out two flags - the Irish flag and the rainbow flag," said Fr Egan.

"Maybe just seeing them, it might become a visual sign from outside for them that they might feel 'I'm being remembered' or 'I'm being lifted up in god's house, maybe I am welcome there'."

An image of the flag flying outside the church was shared on the parish Facebook page with the caption "God's house, your home. All are welcome in this place".

Although, the flag has since been taken down, Fr Egan said the message remains the same.

Jesus turned nobody away and as long as I am the parish priest here, that will always be the case.

When the flag was taken down a second post on the parish Facebook page said: "Just an effort by a parish pastoral council to say to our gay brothers and sisters, 'God loves you, your parish loves you, and you are welcome here'. Applies to all of you too."

Local Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said it was a wonderful statement by Fr Egan to raise the flag alongside the tricolour to signify welcoming and support for all.

"We live in a diverse society and it needs to be respected, a tolerant society that needs to be reflected upon and I think that is what Fr Adrian was doing and I support him," said Mr Doolan.

He said the flag being taken down is not a reflection on Fr Egan, the parish council or the Ballyfermot community.

Mr Doolan said Friday's family-friendly event, which will follow current Covid-19 restrictions, is being held to support both Fr Egan and the LGBTQ+ community.

"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 rainbow flag," Mr Doolan told Newstalk's Lunchtime Live.

In contrast to the backlash Fr Egan's decision received online, Mr Doolan said it has led to a very positive discussion around inclusivity in the Ballyfermot community.

Emma, a resident of Ballyfermot and part of the LGBTQ+ community, says seeing the flag raised in Ballyfermot was very significant.

She said it signifies the level of support for the community from the people of Ballyfermot.

"I think a lot of people don't know whether or not their town is going to be supportive to the community until you see something like that," said Emma.

She said that while Fr Egan is just one person who is part of a very large institution, change begins with brave acts by individuals.

The discussion surrounding the flying of the flag at Ballyfermot Assumption follows a number of anti-LGBTI+ incidents so far during Pride month including graffiti outside Dublin's Pantibar and Pride flags being taken down and burned in Waterford.

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