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Anti-vax GP refuses to explain why prayer group disrupted vigil for Ashling Murphy

The PA system was so loud a woman reading out the names of women who have died as a result of male violence in Ireland had to stop

Dr Pat Morrissey and the Men’s Rosary refused to turn down the PA system

Eamon Dillon

An anti-vax GP refused to explain why his prayer group disrupted a public vigil for murder victim Ashling Murphy last week.

As Ireland united in calling for an end to violence against women in the wake of the tragedy, the Limerick city gathering was one of dozens held all over the country.

But the Men's Rosary group has now been accused of disrupting the vigil and forcing it to be cut short.

Outside his medical practice in Adare, Doctor Pat Morrissey said 'no' when offered the opportunity to explain the group's action.

Asked if the gathering was about drowning out women's voices, he said: "You weren't there."

"I was only saying prayers, I wasn't talking to anyone."

Walking to his car, he ignored any further questions about the group's motive in effectively drowning out the vigil.

Morrissey refused to speak to our reporter

The medic, who has openly espoused anti vaccine opinions, was among a group of men kneeling and praying close to the women's vigil.

The volume on their sound system was turned up when activist and former councillor Mary Callihane asked one of the men to turn it down.

"He didn't even acknowledge me - he looked through me and went back to testing the sound on his PA," she said.

"I specifically told them at the start what was going on."

She said the PA system was so loud a woman reading out the names of women who have died as a result of male violence in Ireland had to stop.

"That is not nice," she added.

Dr Pat Morrissey offered no explanation for the actions of the prayer group

City councillor Conor Sheehan, who witnessed the incident which attracted international press coverage, described their actions as extremely disruptive.

"There was a stand-out organised last Saturday at 2.30pm, basically to take a stand against male violence against women," he said.

"This group, the Men's Rosary, they're normally on Thomas St but they crossed over to Bedford Row for their demonstration at the side of the stand-out.

"They had these big loud speakers. They started chanting the Rosary and chanting other prayers.

"One of the organisers went to them and asked would they mind taking their demonstration to the other side of the street where they would normally have it.

"The response to that, they turned their sound system up even louder. One woman stood up to speak. She read out the names of the 244 women that have been killed by men since the mid 1990s.

"It was incredibly emotional, it was very, very raw. One woman got up to speak, she had been in college with Ashling Murphy.

"I thought it was one of the worst things I have ever witnessed to be honest with you.

Ashling Murphy

"They should have taken their demonstration to the other side of the road where they normally had it and left this group of what was predominantly women to have their stand-out.

"There were loads of women who got up and detailed their experiences of misogyny and harassment - vital, really personal raw stuff.

"I think this just takes it to a whole new level. There was absolutely no need for it.

"They were not praying in solidarity with us - they moved their demonstration from across the road to be deliberately next to this.

"What they were doing was totally inappropriate,"

The Men’s Rosary, with Pat Morrissey (second kneeling from right) moved from their usual spot on Saturday

Dr Morrissey, who is clearly seen praying with the group last Saturday, has also been openly anti-vaccination on social media during the Covid pandemic and shared his opinions with the media.

In one recent social media post, Dr Morrissey likened King Herod's order to murder boys as similar to kids getting vaccine shots.

The Irish Men's Rosary was founded by Patrick McCrystal from Northern Ireland, who is a leading member of Human Life International, a conservative religious organisation.

The pharmacist has refused to dispense the contraceptive pill and what he called other "abortifacients".

He is author of a book entitled "Who's At The Centre Of Your Marriage... The Pill or Jesus Christ?"

Ashling’s parents and her sister

McCrystal has opposed the HPV vaccine, which helps prevent cervical cancer, and said the money spent on it should be put into "chastity programmes" for young people.

The group sprung up in Northern Ireland and Poland as well as in the Republic of Ireland.

Similar groups have now also started holding rallies in the United States where groups of men gather in public places to say the rosary and other prayers.

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