On Wednesday16 January 2019, while I was saying 10.00 am Mass in St Michael’s Church, Enniskillen, a man aged about 50 years approached me while I was giving out Holy Communion and said to me: “Could I have a few words with you?” I was taken aback. He then put out his hand to receive Holy Communion. It was when I gave him Holy Communion that I recognised him as a man from the Gortin area of County Tyrone that I had met many years ago.
As soon as I returned to the Sacristy he rushed in after me via the sanctuary. I met him at the entrance to the Sacristy and began to lead him back out. I asked: “What is your problem?” He replied” I work for a mining company called Dalradian. I want to talk to you. I do not want a row or anything.” I said I did not want to talk to him. I had heard he was opposed to the Save the Sperrins group and I guessed that he was here to challenge my recent statements about the gold mining published in the Irish News. I said I had expressed my opinion. He was entitled to his opinion and I to mine. I asked him to leave and never come back. I walked on out by the back door of the Sacristy and he disappeared into the Church.
Needless to say, I was shaken by the whole event. It was the first time in almost 50 years as a priest that anyone ever confronted me during the celebration of the Mass.
I had an article published in the Irish News on that morning 16 January 2019 expressing my opposition to the mining of lands in the Sperrins region of Tyrone by the Daladian mining company. I was prompted to write about this and to talk to a journalist after receiving a number of bogus emails in the name of ‘Cormac McAleer’ the leader of the Save the Sperrins Group.
Interrupting a celebrant during the celebration of Mass is strange behaviour. I wonder what Dalradian has to say about the behaviour of one of their employees?