Tuesday 11 March 2014

Frank Cottrell Boyce sidelined by "cabin crew" at faith conference

The man who masterminded the triumphant London Olympics opening ceremony, including the parachuting in of the Queen and James Bond, was himself sidelined on Saturday.  
Addressing a conference titled Dissonant Voices: Faith and the Irish Diaspora conference at the London Irish Centre in Camden, writer Frank Cottrell Boyce was expanding his views on inclusiveness and how cultural presentations can get into other areas of life, when five representatives of I.M.E.L.D.A. (Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion) walked in dressed in full red cabin crew attire, wheeling travel bags behind them and ringing a bell.
Each of the five then read out statements about the injustices of women having to come to England to get abortions. Many in the room mistakenly believed that this bit of theatre was all part of the Cottrell Boyce presentation to maybe wake people up in the after lunch slot. But as the statements went on and an increasingly bemused looking Cottrell Boyce stared on in disbelief it became clear that the conference had been hijacked - where is 007 when you need him? The women were told to leave, which they eventually did rolling out with cabin bags behind them. Not though before one member of the audience had walked out in disgust.
I.M.E.L.D.A. is described as a feminist performance activist group, which was set up following the death of Savita Halappanavar, who was denied an abortion in Ireland in October 2012.
Cottrell Boyce continued, telling of the trials and tribulations of the run up to the opening ceremony at the Olympics, with many in the media constantly rubbishing the efforts of those involved. 
The writer declared that those involved in creating the ceremony were committed to the project would not have walked away for such petty matters as not getting the credit or having to wait to get expenses paid but they would if the work had been compromised. “It was about something bigger,” said Cottrell Boyce.
Last year, Cottrell Boyce helped create The Return of Colmcille for Derry City of Culture. He recalled how it is often people from the faith communities who come forward to take part in events such as the Derry and London Olympics extravaganzas.

Earlier, Father Gerry McFlynn of the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas, recalled how it was not easy for the Irish in Britain over the years of the Troubles. “The Irish are still the largest ethnic community in the Church. I’ve never felt at ease here, always a bystander,” said Father McFlynn. “The Church does not exist just to support the status quo, it is about speaking truth to power.”

Author of A Wounded Church, Father Joe McVeigh called for the Irish Church to embrace the teachings of liberation theology. “The Irish Catholic Church has to change and its elitist mindset has to be removed,” said Father McVeigh. “The Irish Church can learn from the church of the poor in Latin America. The liberation model will return the Church to its roots.”

“In my view only this model of Church will have appeal to people who feel they don’t belong,” said Father McVeigh, who declared that the Irish Church is good at charity but charity is not enough. “The prophet did not say let charity flow down like mighty waters but justice.”
He suggested that Pope Francis should not just have attacked the rich but told the poor to organise.   “The experience of the Church in Latin America offers us in the Irish Church a model of how to move from charity to justice.”
“It is crucial that faith is a witness to justice in solidarity with the oppressed peoples,” said Father McVeigh.

Author of a number of books on human rights abuses in Ireland, Monsignor Raymond Murray told of decades fighting for justice in the north of Ireland. This included exposing torture by the British forces, which was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights, opposing internment without trial and the operation of Loyalist death squads and use of rubber and plastic bullets.
Monsignor Murray questioned all those who had stood by while atrocities were being committed. “The Church, media, trade unions and academics, where were they all,” said Monsignor Murray.

* Guardian diary - 11/3/2014 

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