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Concern over planned removal of Fr Matthew statue

By Sarah Mac Donald - 02 December, 2014

Author and former alcoholic “saddened” by decision to move statue of sobriety priest from Dublin's O'Connell Street.

Martin Jim McFadden with soccer legend Gazza

Martin Jim McFadden with soccer legend Gazza

There has been a mixed response to the decision to move the 124-year-old statue of Fr Theobald Mathew, the sobriety priest, from Dublin’s O’Connell Street to make way for the new Luas track.

The Capuchin, who was also known as the Apostle of Temperance, inspired three million Irish people to take the pledge to abstain from alcohol shortly ahead of the famine.

Co Donegal-born author and former alcoholic, Martin Jim McFadden has said he is “saddened” by the decision to uproot the statue from its position of prominence.

Speaking to CatholicIreland.net, he said of Fr Mathew “this man was a pioneer”.

Martin Jim McFadden said his history with drink and subsequent recovery of sobriety means that people like Fr Mathew are very important to him and others like him.

“Although I accept progress has to take place, it shouldn’t be at the cost of moving something so important and having to find a new home for the statue,” he said.

However, he welcomed Capuchin, Fr Bryan Shortall’s suggestion that the statue be moved to Fr Mathew Square where it would be “in view of the beautiful church there on Church Street”.

The statue is being permanently removed to make way for the new Luas track and will be gone from O’Connell Street by 2016.

A spokeswoman from the National Transport Authority (NTA) told the Irish Independent that a new home was being sought for it.

According to Capuchin Fr Bryan Shortall, the friars will not block the move.

“We have to get the city moving. As a Franciscan, we should all support public transport as best we can,” Fr Shortall said.

However, Martin Jim McFadden feels it is important to find out where Fr Mathew will be placed and details of this should be made public sooner rather than later.

He also feels that consultations should take place with all those concerned before any action is taken.

His Book ‘Don’t Go There’ was launched on 1 November in the Old Chapel in St Conal’s Grounds in Letterkenny Co Donegal.

liz-martinIt covers “the good the bad and the ugly of life as an alcoholic and his amazing journey to sobriety, through prayer and his devotion to St Anthony of Padua”.

He told CatholicIreland.net that it is faith and devotion that has kept him sober and helped him turn his life around to a stage where his past is unrecognisable to anyone who didn’t know him then.

Martin’s own father once told him when he saw him drink a bottle of mineral aged 13 “if you ever start drinking you will be an alcoholic.” He knew from the way the young teenager attacked the bottle that trouble might lie ahead.

These days Martin is happily married and anxious to offer assistance to anyone grappling with addiction.

He says he is “happy to leave his sobriety in God’s hands and the power of prayer each day.”

“Where would I be today without prayer…..I have no doubt that I would be in my grave with my loved ones praying for my soul.”

Martin travels Ireland to give his testimony at prayer meeting to help inspire drinker or the loved ones of drinkers that there is a path out of addiction.

Martin Jim McFadden’s book can be ordered via his website http://www.martinjimmcfadden.com/

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