Clergy ‘powerless’ to stop church gate collections

A Donegal priest has branded church gate collections by political parties as “inappropriate” but says there is little the clergy can do to stop them.

Fr Michael McKeever, Secretary to Bishop Alan McGuckian, made his remarks after one Mass-goer said he was “disgusted” at the Catholich Church for not clamping down on the practice.

In a letter to the Donegal News, Ramelton man Jim Nisbet accused representatives of parties who support the repeal of the eighth amendment of “antagonisng” churchgoers by asking them for money.


“Disgusted to see Sinn Féin pro-aborts holding church collections,” Mr Nisbet wrote.

“But not as disgusted as I am with the clergy of our diocese who, once again, failed to utter a mutter of protest at this antagonistic activity against Mass-goers.

“Don’t they care that every donation dropped into the collection buckets of SF/FF/FG is akin to another nail in the coffin of the rights of the unborn Irish children,” he added.

But Fr Michael McKeever said there was little the church could do to halt the practice. He said he felt it was “inappropriate”, particularly if the party involved was opposed to the stance of the church. But the clergy was virtually powerless to stop the collections, Fr McKeever said.

“Anyone political party has no place collecting at churches and I would prefer they didn’t. That goes for any political persuasion, regardless. I don’t feel it is appropriate that they would take up collections, given the relationship between church and State. But what can we do? The answer is very little. We can’t say ‘you can’t do it’ and we don’t give them permission. Out of respect they probably should inform us but normally we don’t get notice.

“But if the legal permit has been obtained, then there is nothing we can do. They can’t encroach on church grounds and even collecting at church gates is questionable, but it is not up to us.”

He added: “It is up to the those who are feeling pressurised or who feel it is wrong to make their objections known,” Fr McKeever said.


Sinn Féin’s Gerry McMonagle defended the church gate collections though. He said they had been happening for years were always carried out within the confines of the law.

“Church gate collections have been taken up for decades and are something political parties can avail of the same as everyone else. So they should not be treated differently to anyone else.

“Like other parties, we made our application, gardai granted it and the collection was quite legal.

“People have different opinions but it was all done above board and through the proper channels,” Cllr McMonagle added.

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