Mary McAleese with her husband Martin and the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the renaming ceremony of the Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge in June 2013. Photo: Andy Spearman.
Former Councillor and Mayor of Drogheda Michael O’Dowd has accused former President of Ireland Mary McAleese of distorting the views of Pope John Paul 2 on human sexuality and that he now regrets supporting a motion to name the Boyne Cable Bridge after her.
“In 2013 while I was on Louth County Council I supported a motion to name the Boyne Cable Bridge after former President Mary McAleese” O’Dowd said.
“It seemed fitting as she had completed a successful presidency based on the theme of creating linkages between divided communities.
“Both herself and her husband Martin had reached out to both sides in Northern Ireland and as President she had not been a divisive figure” he added.
Advertisement - continue reading below
“How things have changed. Over the last few years Mary has become an increasingly shrill voice in criticising the Catholic Church. She is of course entitled to her opinion and given her six years studying theology in Rome it is an educated opinion.
“However she is not entitled to malign and misrepresent the views of those who are in no position to defend themselves. In what can only be described as a calculated and cowardly act she distorted the views of Pope John Paul 11 on human sexuality.
“At a conference in TCD, where she is Chancellor, she suggested that he had supported a misogynist and perverse view of sexual relations between men and women. She went as far as to imply that the Pope in his book Love and Responsibility was silent on forcible acts against unconscious women. Nothing could be further from the truth and Pope John Paul‘s book written before he was elected extoled the virtues of self-giving, consideration and sensitivity.
“It is over forty years since Pope John Paul visited Drogheda. We are undoubtedly a more tolerant and diverse nation. All the more reason then, to defend the reputation and integrity of those who have graced us with their presence.
“Her remarks are troubling. She needs to apologise for this slur. Trinity College need to clarify if they continue to support her and if in their opinion she remains a fit person to hold the Office of Chancellor.
“I’m sorry now I supported the motion to call a bridge after her. However I am encouraged by the fact that character will endure longer than a monument. Truth will always triumph over injustice and malign intent.”
The iconic bridge was officially renamed the Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge in June 2013 to honour her work in the peace process after a decision by both Louth and Meath County Councils.
During her presidency McAleese took as her theme "Building Bridges", reaching out to both communities in Northern Ireland.
The renaming event was attended by former paramilitaries and politicians from both sides of the divide in Northern Ireland
Mrs McAleese said she had always admired the iconic bridge and added that it was poignant to be gathered at the Battle of the Boyne site with many who were once enemies. She said she was privileged to be one of those who helped build the peace process.