Eoghan Corry Is Very Wrong

On 4th April 2024, Eoghan Corry appeared on Newstalk FM to discuss the Dublin Airport decision to cancel their annual “Blessing Of The Planes” ceremony, which is conducted by their Roman Catholic chaplain. This ceremony had been a 75 year-old tradition at the airport and was recently the subject of a CNN report. Unfortunately, Eoghan Corry managed to get almost everything about the story entirely wrong. Subsequently, he wrote an article on his website about the same topic and repeated many of the same false statements there. Since he has not made any corrections despite being informed that his story is untruthful, an accurate narrative of the relevant events can be provided here.

As just one example distortion, the second sentence of the Eoghan Corry article repeats information that he had earlier announced on Newstalk FM:

“According to griot.ie [sic] the move came following objections by a secular campaigner.”

Quote from Eoghan Corry article

The relevant Gript article did not state that the cancellation of the blessings followed an objection from a secular campaigner. The word “objection” does not appear anywhere in the Gript article, because there was no objection or complaint whatsoever. It seems that Eoghan Corry just made this up out of whole cloth. In fact, the relevant correspondence to Dublin Airport stated precisely the opposite of what Eoghan Corry described. Far from objecting in any way or suggesting the cancellation of blessings, the proposal made to Dublin Airport was that they should arrange additional ceremonies to facilitate more blessings.

That correspondence to Dublin Airport was written by a representative of the Dublin City Inter Non-faith Forum. This is a body that was created on foot of a suggestion from Owen Keegan in April 2018, as the then Chief Executive at Dublin City Council. The context was that Dublin City Council had been using public funds to support a range of events organised by the Dublin City Interfaith Forum. When asked why similar public supports for non-religious groups were refused, Mr Keegan explained that the religious had formed an umbrella group whereas the non-faith based groups had not:

“There was a significant variety of groups involved in the Dublin City Interfaith Forum and not just one singular group … It is open for a broadly representative civic society group to apply, which promotes that particular group’s work of a multi group nature”

Quote from Dublin City Council legal submission

On this basis, the Dublin City Inter Non-faith Forum was created with three different non-faith based groups adopting a common charter. This organisation has made multiple applications to participate in civil society activities, of which the request to join the Roman Catholic chaplain during the “Blessing Of The Planes” was just the latest example. Eoghan Corry’s description of this request leaves no doubt as to his perspective on faith-based blessings versus equivalent non-faith based events. In relation to the Roman Catholic blessing of planes using holy water, he stated as follows on Newstalk FM:

“People were a bit stressed by how this heap of metal could get up in the sky and get down safely again. So having it blessed was probably a huge advantage … what a great idea, bringing Irish spirituality into modern aviation. We live in a country where a road was diverted so a fairy bush wouldn’t be knocked down when the Ennis to Gort road was being built. You don’t mess with the fairies and you probably shouldn’t be doing anything when it comes to the aviation industry that would reduce your chances of a safe flight.”

Statement from Eoghan Corry on Newstalk FM

This can be contrasted with how Eoghan Corry portrayed those who preferred a more inclusive approach to the 75 year-old practice of restricting the annual ceremony to Roman Catholic priests only. That alternative perspective was described by Eoghan Corry as follows:

“We live in the age of social media outrage. Somebody put it up on social media that there was an objection. A lot of anti-Church stuff rose up. It all got stoked. Like many social media storms, it went from a gentle wind to a hurricane very quickly.”

Statement from Eoghan Corry on Newstalk FM

In fact, it was Eoghan Corry who was gratuitously stoking an entirely unnecessary controversy. By falsely reporting that there had been an “objection” to the Roman Catholic blessing, it was Eoghan Corry who was more responsible than anyone else for provoking a needless and avoidable furore. Continuing to present the views of Dublin Airport more enthusiastically than their own press office, Eoghan Corry went on to explain the current situation as follows:

“Security is now more important than it would have been in 1947 … the days when you could shuttle a priest and a few altar boys onto the airstrip without anybody asking any questions are long gone.”

Statement from Eoghan Corry on Newstalk FM

This is transparently false. Not alone are the days when arranging such Roman Catholic ceremonies not long gone, in fact Dublin Airport arranged exactly such a ceremony just a few weeks ago. Moreover, not alone was it the case that nobody at Dublin Airport asked any skeptical questions in advance of arranging this Roman Catholic ceremony, their own press office actually made best efforts to publicise it internationally.

Example of the publicity arranged by Dublin Airport
Example of the Christmas 2023 international publicity arranged by Dublin Airport

For the benefit of those who have been misled by the false reporting of Eoghan Corry, below is the actual sequence of events that Dublin Airport and their media friends would like to avoid discussing:

  • Following the Christmas 2023 publicity arranged by Dublin Airport in relation to their “Blessing Of The Planes” ceremony, a representative of the Dublin City Inter Non-faith Forum requested that they should be allowed to arrange a similar Christmas 2024 event, alongside the Roman Catholic priest.
  • Having facilitated this event for 75 years and promoted it themselves just weeks earlier, purely by coincidence and apropos of nothing the team at Dublin Airport then immediately realised that the whole thing had been a worrying security risk all along. In response to the request from a representative of the Dublin City Inter Non-faith Forum, the Managing Director of Dublin Airport stated as follows:

“… we have carried out a full review of the categories of individuals who may apply for escorted access to restricted airside areas and under what circumstances. As a result of our review, we have determined that the conduct by individuals of religious events or non-religious events of the type proposed by you, fall outside the scope of the “exceptional” basis on which we may issue Escort Passes. Therefore, for security reasons we can no longer permit these events airside under the National Security Programme. The Catholic Church has been informed, that from 2024 they will no longer be able to participate with the blessing of the planes event in Dublin Airport for the reasons I have stated above.”

Quote from Dublin Airport correspondence
  • There was then an article published about this correspondence on Gript, which accurately quoted the position of Dublin Airport. Following the publication of that article, there was a lot of social media commentary about the issue. The readers of Gript tagged Dublin Airport in many posts articulating the perspective of the faithful, which of course is an entirely valid way to communicate sincerely held beliefs towards a public body. The great majority of the commentary expressed disappointment to Dublin Airport about their decision.

Example responses to the Gript article, tagging Dublin Airport

  • Following the response to the Gript article, Dublin Airport performed a full 180 degree volte-face. In a total U-Turn from their previous position, they issued a new statement indicating that they “are currently working on a new approach to facilitating the traditional Christmas blessing of the planes at Dublin Airport.“. No such efforts to formulate “a new approach” were offered to any representative of the Dublin City Inter Non-faith Forum in order to facilitate their requests. In fact, at the time of writing the only thing that Dublin Airport has stated to any representative of the Dublin City Inter Non-faith Forum, remains that they “can no longer permit these events“.

Whatever anyone thinks of this narrative, it is hardly the story that Eoghan Corry would have us believe, wherein the good faith of the Dublin Airport team was being attacked by the nasty “fake outrage” of secularists on social media. It would be closer to the truth to say that Dublin Airport seems to treat all requests from the Roman Catholic faithful much more favourably than similar requests from citizens who have no faith in holy water or fairies.

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