Magherafelt-born priest fears Stormont crisis will thwart Pope visit to NI

Fr Eamon Murray
Fr Eamon Murray
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A Magherafelt-born priest says the present instability at Stormont is not helping his efforts to bring Pope Francis to Northern Ireland.

Father Eamon Murray recently had talks with the Sinn Féin Mayor of Belfast, Arder Carson and Jim Rodgers of the Ulster Unionist Party.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

“I am still keen that Pope Francis visits Northern Ireland and I am pushing for it to happen,” he said.

“It would be the first time in hundreds of years that a Pope would visit Northern Ireland and I look forward to the day it could happen.”

Fr Murray said despite the instability surrounding the power-sharing executive at Stormont, he would continue to present leading politicians to make it happen.

“I am moving back to County Down after being in England for twenty years, half my life almost, so I will continue to encourage for the Pope to come here,” he continued.

I was saddened that Pope John Paul II was unable to travel to Northern Ireland after the murder of Lord Mountbatten and the atrocity at Narrow Water Castle in 1979. That has always stuck in my mind.

“I will continue to engage with politicians to make it happen. I was saddened that Pope John Paul II was unable to travel to Northern Ireland after the murder of Lord Mountbatten and the atrocity at Narrow Water Castle in 1979. That has always stuck in my mind.”

He added: “I remain in contact with Alderman Rodgers and we have had a very positive dialogue on a range of different issues.”

Fr Murray was parish priest at St Peter’s Catholic Church in Biggleswade, Berkshire but is now based at Our Lady & St Joseph’s Church, Kingsland, North London.