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Councillors to vote on rescinding Freedom of Drogheda from Edmund Garvey

Councillors are to vote on a motion to rescind the Freedom of Drogheda from former head of the Christian Brothers Edmund Garvey, on Monday, with a slim majority expected to support the proposal.

The vote follows a campaign by a group of survivors, who were sexually abused as children by members of the Christian Brothers, opposing a legal strategy adopted when Br Garvey was head of the congregation which makes it more difficult for claimants to advance civil cases.

The legal strategy of refusing to provide a nominee to act on behalf of the congregation has been strongly criticised by survivors and their legal representatives as obstructive.

The motion to remove the Freedom of Drogheda previously awarded to Br Garvey is being voted on by members of the Drogheda borough district of Louth County Council. Five of the nine councillors expected to be present for the vote have said they would back a motion to remove the honour from Br Garvey.

Labour Party Cllrs Michelle Hall and Emma Cutlip, Independent Cllr Paddy McQuillian and Sinn Féin Cllrs Joanna Byrne and Tom Cunningham have said they will vote in favour of a motion to rescind the honour.

Ten councillors sit on the Drogheda borough, but Labour Cllr Pio Smith will be unable to attend for the vote, according to his party colleague Ms Cutlip.

Fine Gael Cllr Eileen Tully and Fianna Fáil’s James Byrne said they did not wish to comment on their voting intention. Independent Cllrs Kevin Callan and Declan Power did not respond to requests for comment on how they planned to vote.

The campaign to rescind the honour has been led by Damian O’Farrell, a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a Christian Brother who was later convicted. Mr O’Farrell, an independent Dublin city councillor, said he hoped that following the vote the Christian Brothers “have the integrity to change their legal strategy”.

In refusing to provide a nominee to act on behalf of the congregation in civil cases, survivors of historical child sexual abuse seeking compensation from the order must sue all brothers from the time who are still alive.

Br Garvey, who was awarded the Freedom of Drogheda in 1997, did not respond to requests for comment on the upcoming vote.

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