herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Grave visit couple asked to remove equal marriage sticker from car in church car park

Lucy and John Keaveney pictured with YES Equality car sticker which they were asked to remove because the car was parked in the grounds of a church.
Lucy and John Keaveney pictured with YES Equality car sticker which they were asked to remove because the car was parked in the grounds of a church.

A couple claims they were verbally abused in a church car park when they refused to remove a sticker supporting equal marriage from their car.

Lucy and John Keaveney, who are in their 60s and from Ratoath, Co Meath, were visiting the grave of a relative when they were told aggressively by a man to remove the sticker or park elsewhere.

The incident happened on Sunday afternoon in the car park of a Russian Orthodox Church in Harold's Cross.

The couple parked their car in the church car park and walked in the direction of Mount Jerome Cemetery when they were given the ultimatum from an "aggressive, surly" man.

"He just took it upon himself to ask me remove the car or to take the sticker off," Mr Keaveney said.

The car park is open to patrons visiting Mount Jerome Cemetery.

"Those using the car park are asked to make a donation.

Mrs Keaveney described the man as being around 60 years of age, of large build and said he was of Irish nationality.

The man continued to rant at the couple, saying that the sticker was on "sacred ground" and that it disagreed with "the laws of God and man."

The man then became very agitated and went to fetch a priest from inside the Orthodox church.

Mr and Mrs Keaveney said that the priest that came to talk to them was "friendly and civil" and that he did not insist on them removing the car or the sticker.

Mrs Keaveney said that she found the incident extremely stressful and that it affected her visit to the grave of her sister-in-law, who died a number of years ago.

Afraid

"We didn't go out to cause any trouble on a Sunday afternoon. We met friends at the grave and they said they would nearly be afraid that the man would crack in the window of the car," she told the Herald.

"It was the only altercation that we have encountered with the sticker in the car.

"I had been thinking of taking it down but it's staying up now," Mrs Keaveney added.

A spokesperson from the church, archpriest Mikhail Nasonov, expressed shock at the incident and told the Herald that their parish feast took place on Sunday, and brought a lot of visitors.

He offered his apologies to the couple and said that what happened in the car park was not right.

"If he spoke with an Irish accent it could be anyone who came to visit a grave, as the car park is used by a lot of people. Our parish is mainly Russian," the archpriest said.

Frank McGarry of the nearby Mount Jerome Cemetery said: "Everyone is entitled to their own views and the incident is not something that we would have been okay with."

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