Following on from yesterday’s Derry People Donegal News front page story, there was a discussion today on Highland Radio about Letterkenny Town Council’s decision to erect a Celtic Cross at the Cathedral Car Park, which would also feature an image of Pope John Paul II. This decision is being questioned, as the Car Park is also outside the local Church of Ireland Church, and a Presbyterian Parish Hall (Trinity Hall).
I was not at the meeting when this decision was taking (I attended at the start, but had to leave as the meeting took place during my exams), but the minutes are available here on this website Scroll down to “MONUMENT â€“ CATHEDRAL CAR PARK”, 5 points from the very end. I have also spoken to many other councillors and officials about this, and have spoken on Highland this morning about the issue.
This decision was taken shortly after the death of Pope John Paul II, and was intended to mark his contribution to life in modern Ireland. That said, I also respect the position that this image may cause offence in such a public position, and support the idea that we should be erecting a piece to show our shared history, and the common parts of our cultures.
I have proposed that we arrange a meeting between representatives of the council, and all the parties in the Cathedral Car Park, to discuss this issue and seek a resolution. I hope to arrange this for early next week.
As I said on Highland Radio today, I would particularly like to thank Rev Stuart Wright for his response to this issue. Rev Wright has always been very approachable, and he has dealt with this issue in a very proactive and measured way.
Update (Feb 28th 2006): An innacurate report in today’s Donegal Democrat claims that I have “confirmed” that the Pope’s image will be removed from the cross. This is not true; I confirmed that I will be meeting members of the clergy and outlined that it would be possible to replace the middle section, on which the Pope’s image currently is. The council will decide on this issue on March 8th. I’d also like to highlight that it was never the intention of the council for the Pope’s image to appear on the cross. There has been a substantial breakdown in communication on this issue, one which we are moving to address as quickly as possible.
Update (March 3rd 2006): This story is close to being resolved. At the next council meeting (Wednesday March 8th) I will be proposing that we replace the section with Pope John Paul’s image with a section done similar to the rest of the Cross, and that the image of Pope John Paul be donated to the Catholic Diocese of Raphoe. I am confident this will be accepted by the members; I have discussed it with representatives of the Catholic Church, Church of Ireland and Trinity Presbyterian Church, and they all accept the proposal. The story has been featured on Radio on Highland, BBC Radio Foyle, BBC Radio Ulster, RTE Radio 1 and in many of Ireland’s national papers. We’ve moved to resolve this situation as quickly as possible, and I hope it will be finalised next week.