There’s been a lot of reporting about Ireland becoming a more secular country in general and Catholics “fleeing the church“ in particular.
But if fewer people are attending Mass and other religious services, Fianna Fail apparently hasn’t got the message. The republican party founded by Eamon De Valera and other opponents of the 1921 Free State Treaty continues to collect money outside of churches.
The Irish Independent reports:
The lucrative money-spinner outside mostly Catholic chapels across the country netted close to a quarter of a million euro for the party coffers last year alone. The cash has made a huge contribution towards halving Fianna Fail’s bank debts since being ejected from government [in 2011].
Now some party members want to stop so-called church gate collections.
“It’s about time political parties gave up church collections,” the Independent quoted Galway County Councillor Malachy Noone. “It is not the place to do it. It is not in the best of taste.”
Supporters of the practice said it doesn’t align the party solely with the Catholic church. “We are not fussy what church we collect outside, we will collect outside any church,” another party official told the newspaper.
Party leaders are set to debate the issue at a weekend conference in Dublin, just as they also prepare to begin their annual three-month church gate collection across the country.
1998 FF ”church gate” ad from Irish Election Literature blog