FINE Gael TD Derek Keating has been asked to stand down as a minister of the Eucharist by his parish priest at St Mary’ Parish in Lucan over his party’s stance on the controversial abortion legislation that was recently passed.
The Dublin Mid-West TD was called upon by Father Peter O’Reilly in St Mary’s Parish to cease his duties as a Eucharistic minister, given his party’s stance on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Another priest in his constituency also voiced his opposition to Deputy Keating’s stance on the Bill, accusing him of being involved in a “Nazi regime”, and has since barred the TD from using his parish hall to hold his constituency clinics.
Speaking on the John Murray Show with Miriam O’Callaghan, Deputy Keating described how Fr O’Reilly asked him to stop his ministerial duties within his parish “in the interest of peace”.
He said: “I got a call recently from my local parish priest, who felt it would be in the interest of peace if I stood aside [as a minister of the Eurcharist], and I’m not very happy about that.
“It was followed up by a letter asking me to stand aside permanently, and I just think that’s wrong.
“People should be allowed to make decisions in their own life and not have to compromise their duty, whether it is a minister of the Eucharist or any other area of responsibility within the church,” he said.
Deputy Keating said he made no attempts to contact Fr O’Reilly since he was asked to step down, but welcomes the opportunity to sit down with him and discuss the decision made on his behalf.
He said: “There wasn’t any opportunity to discuss it before a decision was made, and I think that’s important.”
Father O’Reilly was unavailable for comment on the matter.
Deputy Keating went on to talk about his constituency clinic in St Philomena’s Parish Centre and how the parish priest there was particularly unhappy with him and Fine Gael supporting the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
He said: “He’s [the parish priest] made it known to me through correspondence from the parish that effectively I can’t use the parish centre any more, so I’m very disappointed with that.”
Deputy Keating was also made aware that he had some unpaid fees owed to St Philomena’s Parish Centre Committee, but stated he had difficulty in finding out how much he actually owes.
He said: “I believe this is a smokescreen because I have made several attempts to pay that money, and have asked on a number of occasions how much money I actually owe, but they won’t tell me.”
Deputy Keating was also asked about his political aide, Tommy Morris, being captured on CCTV removing a substantial number of copies of The Lucan Gazette from three separate stores in Lucan.
In response, the Deputy said: “What happened was wrong; I don’t condone it. I personally wasn’t involved in it, and what I said at the time was that I would take appropriate action, and I did.
“I won’t go into it because there is client confidentiality. I took action on that particular matter, and I dealt with it. I said I would do that and I’ve done that, and I believe it was in proportion to what happened.”
Deputy Keating has not yet clarified to The Gazette the appropriate action taken; nor has he apologised to the newspaper.
A file has gone to the DPP concerning the incident.