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Holy show Priest asks if Catholics should pay TV licence after ‘disturbing, inaccurate’ Fair City confession storyline

"To see them dishonour the practice and protocol which is normally associated with the sacrament was very offensive"

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Actor Phelim Drew, who plays Fr Liam Plunkett in Fair City. Photo: Beta Bajgart

Actor Phelim Drew, who plays Fr Liam Plunkett in Fair City. Photo: Beta Bajgart

Actor Phelim Drew, who plays Fr Liam Plunkett in Fair City. Photo: Beta Bajgart

A parish priest based in Kerry has questioned whether Catholics should continue to pay their TV licence fee after what he says is a “disturbing, inaccurate and disrespectful” storyline on confession in Fair City.

Confession – “a sacrament of consolation” – has never been more necessary than now. That is the view of Fr Kevin McNamara, parish priest of the large north Kerry parish of Moyvane.

“It really downgraded the sacrament at a very sensitive time,” he said of the episode last Sunday.

The dramatised confession – a key storyline on the long-running soap last Sunday – breached all kinds of protocols, the priest said. It took place in front of an altar, there was alcohol involved and the priest – portrayed by Phelim Drew – donned a stole.

Last Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday, a feast which focuses on confession, and Fr McNamara said that this added to the sense of hurt.

With churches still closed due to the lockdown restrictions, he had earlier spent the afternoon hearing confessions outdoors in the car park of Moyvane Church.

“Later that evening, Fair City carried a storyline about confession which blatantly gave false information about this sacrament, which is sacrosanct to all Catholics but especially priests,” he said.

In a previous storyline some years ago, this same TV show gave “a false and disturbing storyline” about a priest breaking the seal of confession, he also said.

“To see them dishonour the practice and protocol which is normally associated with the sacrament was very offensive,” Fr McNamara added.

Next weekend’s newsletter in Moyvane will carry an article (“Fair City – Not Fair on Confession”), the priest said, in which he will ask Catholics to question the TV licence they pay to RTÉ.

“Why should Catholics continue to pay their TV licence to a station who continually and deliberately shows a lack of knowledge and respect for the Catholic faith and for sacred doctrine?” he asked.

RTÉ has been contacted for response.

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