Cork school apologises following guest speaker’s anti-LGBTQ+ rant

The school's principal and board of management chairperson issued an apology after the layperson's comments caused people to walk out of mass in protest.

Exterior of Cork school, Gaelscoil Uí Riada, which apologised after a guest speaker went on an anti-LGBTQ+ rant. The image shows the exterior of a grey building with blue accents and some plants on the ground.
Image: @gaelscoiluiriada via Instagram

A Cork primary school has apologised after a lay guest speaker made anti-LGBTQ+ remarks, ranting about homosexuality, divorce and “gender benders” at a mass on Tuesday, January 30. The special ceremony was organised for pupils and families of Gaelscoil Uí Riada and was held at St Joseph’s Church in Wilton.

The man was invited to address the congregation by celebrant and parish priest Fr Michael O’Leary and was reportedly expected to discuss intergenerational faith issues. Instead, the guest launched into a near-20-minute tirade, in which he claimed society is falling apart.

He is said to have been highly critical of homosexuality, as well as non-binary Eurovision artist Bambie Thug, and used the term “gender benders” during his anti-LGBTQ+ speech to the Cork school. The layperson also stated that some people have used divorce to manage chaos in their lives.

The remarks caused many adults to walk out in protest, with one mother shouting “mol an óige (praise the young)” as she left.

Speaking after the fact, one parent said, “The comments caused a lot of upset and ruined what was an otherwise lovely event.”

Another expressed, “It was supposed to be a Mass celebrating grandparents and the connection with their grandchildren, and this speaker’s opening gambit was to tell the children to ‘téar a chodladh’ (go to sleep) – it was so dismissive.

“And then the content of the talk, in this context, was most inappropriate. It has caused hurt and division.” 

Similarly, a different church-goer noted “There were a lot of upset grandparents outside afterwards. It was awful to see.”

In an email to parents later, school principal Breanndán Ó Gréilligh and board of management chairperson Séamus Ó Rinn issued an apology.

“As you are aware, a person not associated with the school was given the opportunity to address the congregation during the Mass,” the statement read.

“This happened without our prior knowledge, and we deeply and sincerely regret that this happened and the upset caused.”

The school authorities have also arranged a meeting with Bishop Fintan Gavin, who serves the Diocese of Cork and Ross, to discuss the incident “at the earliest possible opportunity in the coming days”.

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