Katherine Zappone Asked That No State Money Be Used For Pope Visit

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone asked Tánaiste Simon Coveney that no State funds would be put into the Pope's visit for the World Meeting Of Families In Dublin this August.

Katherine Zappone speaking to the press at Leinster House

A letter by Katherine Zappone addressed to Minister For Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney has revealed that Zappone raised concerns in February over State money going into the papal visit. Zappone explained in the letter her disappointment at the removal of references to lesbian, gay and transgender Catholics and their families from documents associated with the World Meeting Of Families.

“Very serious concerns have been brought to my attention by former president Mary McAleese and others regarding the forthcoming World Meeting of Families and the potential use of State funding. As a Government Minister I share these concerns and believe they must be urgently addressed,” Zappone wrote.

The letter also stated that documents relating to the WMoF had removed “previously included references to LGBTI-plus Catholics and their families.”

“These actions have raised the prospect that the meeting will include statements on homosexuality, gay marriage and gay adoption which will cause great hurt and offence, not just in our communities but to people worldwide,” she added.

Zappone sought assurance from Coveney, whose department managed the visit, that State funds will not “be used to support views and events which do not represent Government policy.

“Our Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs has been to the forefront in promoting equality and human rights offering hope to those facing inequality, discrimination and abuse.

“Financial support for an event which encourages discrimination and inequality undermines and comprises this work, which has the support of the Irish people.”

The visit lasted 32 hours and is estimated to have cost the State €32 million. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil in July that the cost of the visit to the State would be between €10 million and €20 million.

Zappone met the Pope on the steps of Áras an Uachtaráin during his visit and asked him in Italien about the Tuam mother and baby home scandal, and handed him a two-page letter asking that the Vatican contribute up to €2.5 million towards the cost of excavating the bodies buried in a sewerage system at Tuam, or to create a memorial.

Zappone recently announced that the human remains at Tuam will be exhumed, identified where possible and reburied, but this will likely not happen until next year.

The Pope’s visit erupted anger within the Irish LGBT+ community as Pope Francis was allowed to parade down O’Connell Street, while the Dublin Pride Parade has been diverted away from main streets such as O’Connell Street and Dame Street over the past five years.

In September, GCN launched a petition asking Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to ensure that the Dublin Pride Parade regains its rightful place on the city’s main thoroughfares.

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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