The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland is “outraged” at the homelessness crisis and the plight of families facing eviction at the hands of vulture funds.
In an exclusive interview with the Irish
Mirror, the Bishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland Eamon Martin,
stressed the pressing need for politicians to focus on the needs of
a hard-hitting defence of ordinary people, he also spoke out about the
“aggressive lenders” now repossessing homes on an increasing scale.
The Archbishop said the time has come for policy-makers to put families first and even hit out at the tracker mortgage scandal.
added: “I think it’s a terrible scandal that there are so many people
looking for social housing in Ireland at the moment who cannot access
“I think it’s outrageous so many people have had their homes
repossessed because of rather aggressive lenders pursuing them at a time
when if we really truly value family and home, and that’s what we
celebrate at Christmas, then it needs to make its way into our
“We need to be monitoring the impact of policy on family... on homes. The tracker mortgages for example.
years ago the Government established a commission on the family which
was a really interesting piece of work where there was a lot of research
done, a lot of policy examined so that Ireland would put family, and
the needs of family, at the centre of its policymaking.”
Archbishop said when the Pope visits Ireland in 2018 for the World
Meeting Of Families it should act as a spur for the Government to put
families and individuals before the economy.
He added: “Might that be a catalyst to re-examine the position of family and how we support family in Ireland.
“I think it’s true to the Irish psyche that home, family,
the clan are who we are. It’s part of us as Irish people and something
that would be a very worthwhile project.”
The Archbishop, who
comes from a working class background in Co Derry, also acknowledged
society is changing and there needs to be a broader interpretation of
the word family.
He said: “I have a feeling that in recent years
we have placed the individual autonomy, the autonomy of the individual,
higher up on the scale of things than the needs of the community, or the
cell of society.
I think in most societies it’s the home and the
family and the household and if we are to positively discriminate, to
use that term, in favour of family and I use family in its broadest
“For us in the Church of course the traditional
understanding of family – mother, father and children – is very, very
central. However, I think we would also support any public policy which
is seeking to promote the needs of the family unit, however that may be
“Nowadays there are many different configurations of
family but nonetheless it’s still that idea, because it’s the seat of
love, it’s the place where people get their sense of worth, it’s the
place where people are under terrible pressure.”
Archbishop Martin also spoke out about the prevalence of domestic violence, especially at this time of year.
added: “I’m very conscious in these days leading up to Christmas...
we’ve had meetings recently with Women’s Aid and other organisations who
are working in the area of domestic violence... the kind of pressure
that people are under nowadays, be they financial or pressures from
addictions or whatever is going on in their lives is placing intolerable
levels of domestic violence in society.
“I don’t want to be preachy coming up to Christmas but these to me are the central values that I think about at Christmas time.
is a time when most people think of their family. That applies I think
to all of us... whether our family story has been a happy and a joyful
one or even families where has been great pain or separation in
relationships. Christmas is a time when people will often reach out and
send a message of good wishes even to somebody from whom they’ve been
Although the Vatican has not officially confirmed the Pope’s
visit, Archbishop Martin is sure the Pontiff will come here in August
He said: “I think he wants to be here, he wants to be with
us. The reason the Vatican hasn’t officially said he’s coming is that
they don’t actually announce the Pope’s itinerary until a number of
“All things being well with Pope Francis’
health and well-being we’re hoping to have him in Ireland. The event
itself is the World Meeting Of Families and in itself is a huge event in
the life of the church.
“Since Francis became Pope one of his
core messages and teachings has been about the importance of family and
how the church supports family and also how the society should support
The 55-year-old Archbishop, the youngest ever
Catholic Primate of Ireland, said the World Meeting of Families will run
from a Wednesday to the following Sunday and from previous experience
the Pope could be here for two days on the Saturday and Sunday.
added: “We are hoping that if he did come to Ireland... might he extend
his visit by a day or two and maybe visit Northern Ireland?
would be a very meaningful thing for the people here and perhaps be
seen as another significant symbolic moment on our journey of peace.”
Archbishop said Irish people have great empathy with those who are
suffering and are appalled at the events in Aleppo and the rest of
Syria. He added: “Those scenes where people are queueing to get on buses
to escape from bombs and terrible destruction. And today when people
are waking up to hear of that tragedy in Berlin... this whole year has
been punctuated by pain in many parts of the world.
Ireland there’s an empathy with the homeless. I know that at our carol
service children came with gifts for St Vincent de Paul... to see a
young boy coming up the aisle of the cathedral with a big parcel where
that young boy clearly has a sense of ‘I’m fortunate, there are people
who aren’t as well off as I am’.”