Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Priest helps stop fight between two Massgoers

A Dublin priest was forced to intervene after a brawl broke out in his church during Sunday Mass.

Parishioners at the Church of Divine Mercy in Lucan were left in shock after one man launched an attack on another Massgoer last weekend at the 11am service.



"Mass had just begun and the reader was starting and a fight broke out at the back of the church. One man attacked another man and started to beat him and thump him," said the parish priest, Fr Donal Roche.



Fr Roche said that everyone was so shocked by the incident that no one thought to intervene, so he had to step down off the altar and approach the two men.



"It was very upsetting for the people around him and there were young children in the church. Eventually I came down myself, even though I knew there wasn't a whole lot I could do, and then he stopped.



"The man got quite a few thumps and blows. It was very nasty," he added.



"It took a few minutes, a good three or four minutes, for the whole thing to stop. It should not have happened in the church. It's shocking that it did. But it was a once off -- it never happened before and I hope it never will again."



Both of the men, who are members of the Traveller community, regularly attend Mass in the church and the priest says he knows both of their families.



He added that their family and friends were very embarrassed after the incident.



"He [the man who was attacked] came back to me afterwards and said that the man had blamed him for something.



"Whether they've sorted out their grievances or not, I don't know, but it was the wrong place to sort it out."



Fr Roche said that faith is very precious to Travellers and the incident caused them a lot of stress.



"Some of the family also came back to me and said that they were very ashamed and embarrassed over what had happened.



"I just listened to them and I agreed that it was a terrible thing.



"They're very respectful. They have great respect for the church and faith. They're so dedicated generally and they're so proud of their faith."



The priest added that his congregation is an unusually young and lively one, and he hopes that this brawl won't affect church attendance.



"I would hope that it wouldn't put people off coming again because we've a great community and we've a full church every Sunday."



A garda spokesperson said: "We are appealing for information regarding the incident."

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