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McCausland accuses Catholic clergyman of making sectarian statements

(by Colm Heatley,

The DUP's Nelson McCausland has accused a Catholic clergyman in North Belfast of making ‘sectarian statements' to the media. And when asked by the North Belfast News if his own comments might lead to an attack on a Catholic church, the Oldpark councillor replied, “It's their own fault they have been putting sectarian statements to the press.”

He says that through statements to the press it is clear that the stigma of sectarianism is laid at the door of the Protestant community, by sections of the Catholic Church.

“To accuse Protestants of being sectarian is ridiculous, that is in itself a sectarian comment and it is a ludicrous position to hold.

“Saying that there is no religious bigotry amongst Catholics while accusing Protestants of being religiously intolerant is nothing short of sectarianism.

“Many Catholic people are good, decent people but certainly not all.

“No community in Northern Ireland is immune from sectarianism and there is also a problem with sectarianism in the Republic, albeit that it takes the form of closet sectarianism.

“Last summer Gearoid O'Caireallain writing in the North Belfast News described an anti-Irish language remark as being blatantly sectarian.

“Sectarianism can take many forms and to define it in a way that suits yourself is wrong.

The outspoken councillor's comments have caused outrage within the catholic community. Fr John McManus, spokesman for the Bishop of Down and Connor, rebuffed Nelson McCausland's comments.

“The only message ever preached from any of the churches is one of peace and reconciliation.”

Fr Dan Whyte, whose own church was destroyed in a sectarian arson attack in June 2001 described the comments as deeply unhelpful.

”At this time of the year his comments are particularly regrettable.

“The only message ever preached is one of tolerance and a comment such as this is unhelpful, particularly now.”

St Bernard's church was gutted by arsonists last June, just days after the parish's annual cemetery Sunday service was picketed by loyalists.

August 5, 2002

This article appeared first on the web site on August 2, 2002.