An Irish government deputy has been banned from handing out communion at his local Catholic church as a result of his support for the controversial abortion bill.
Dublin Mid West deputy Derek Keating has been told to stand down from his role as a minister of the Eucharist at St Mary’s Church in the suburb of Lucan.
The Fine Gael deputy has also been accused of being involved in a ‘Nazi regime’ by the parish priest in the neighbouring suburb of Palmerstown where he holds weekly clinics for his constituents.
The priest has also banned Keating from using the parish hall for his constituency clinics.
Keating has also told the Sunday Independent newspaper that his family home was targeted by ultra-right wing pro-life campaigners during the abortion debate.
He told the Sunday Independent: “In July I was forced to leave my home. I should not have to leave my ministry, which is deeply important to me.
“I don’t want to be doing this, raising this issue in this manner, but I feel it is very important I take a stand. There remains in the church a small element within that threaten, bully and abuse and it is totally unacceptable.”
The report says that Keating was contacted last weekend by Lucan parish priest Fr Peter O’Reilly.
Fr O’Reilly, who was unavailable for comment, called on Keating not to fulfil his duties as a Eucharistic minister given the controversy during the summer around the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Keating was also contacted by Fr Anthony Reilly of St Philomena’s Parish in Palmerstown over his support for the controversial abortion legislation.
Fr Reilly, who described himself as a Fine Gael voter since 1977, said the party has engaged in a ‘terrible deception’.
The Palmerstown priest wrote: “I was satisfied that Fine Gael was a christian, democratic, party which to the present day is affiliated to the European People’s Party.
“What we have witnessed over the past while is certainly not democratic but more akin to a Nazi regime.
“There has been a terrible deception from your party in referring to directly procured abortion as protection of life when directly procured abortion will be permitted until virtually the time of birth.
“Consequently, I will no longer be in a position to vote for Fine Gael and will do all in my power to keep the events of 11/12 July present in people’s minds in the future.
“With great sadness I write this letter, Yours sincerely, Fr Anthony Reilly.”