Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín, Meath West TD, has spoken out against the recent vandalism of the Holy Year Cross in Clonmel. The site was daubed in graffiti on Tuesday afternoon, just days before an annual mass is due to be celebrated at the Co. Tipperary location.

An Teachta Tóibín stated:

“This attack is unjustifiable. One of the key foundations of a liberal democracy is freedom of religion. People should have a right to practice their religion without fear or favour, that includes Catholics.

“Pluralism should be the corner stone of a healthy republic. Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Hindu and atheist should be able to be fully who they are. Ireland is richer place when we allow everyone to reach their full potential in an open and welcoming way.

“We have seen in recent times an increase in the number of attacks and acts of vandalism on Catholic images and property. In the 40 public meetings we held around the country many people stated that there was now a casual anti-Catholic strain in debate amongst some senior politicians and media in Ireland. Many people told us at these meetings that they keep their heads down about who they are in public. Many felt that there was a new sectarianism developing amongst some sectors of Irish society.

“Constant low-level negativity being directed towards any group is wrong especially when it ignores the massive amount of good that has been achieved in Irish society by that group. The casual development of negative caricatures by some virtue-signalling politicians and media can feed into that negativity.

“We need to check ourselves when we engage in debate. What sense is there of the state dressing up in the colours of equality if we simply push another group of people into the closet?”