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Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill unable to meet the Pope due to her broken leg

By Suzanne Breen ·

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Accident: Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill has said she will not be able to meet the Pope due to her broken leg.

Newry and Armagh MLA Conor Murphy will attend Papal events in Dublin this weekend in her place.

Speaking last night, Ms O'Neill said Pope Francis' visit was an opportunity to end the Church's cover-up of child sexual abuse.

She broke her leg in an accident last month.

Mrs O'Neill described the visit as "a significant event for all the Irish people and Irish Catholics in particular".

She added: "It had been my intention to attend Dublin Castle and Mass in Phoenix Park as part of the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland and the World Meeting of Families.

"However, I regret due to a broken leg and restricted mobility that I will now not be able to attend.

"Sinn Fein will be represented by senior Sinn Fein elected representatives, including Conor Murphy who will attend in my place." Mrs O'Neill said she would "listen with acute interest" to what the Pope had to say on a range of social and religious issues.

Pope Francis 'excited' by Ireland visit

"While reflecting on our personal beliefs we must also recognise that as political leaders and as legislators, we have a responsibility beyond our own individual views to deliver equality, rights and respect for all sections of the Irish people," she said.

"We must specifically acknowledge the damage done by the Catholic Church to the lives of many women and children in the mother and baby homes, the Magdalene laundries and a succession of abuse scandals and cover-ups.

"The visit of Pope Francis is an opportunity to address these issues, to meet with victims and survivors, to fully acknowledge their suffering and the damage done, to end the cover-ups and to commit to full redress, north and south."

Mrs O'Neill said Ireland had undergone significant political, social and economic change since the last Papal visit in 1979.

"We now have a peace process and an increasingly progressive, modern and outward-looking society," she said.

"We must build on this while retaining those positive traditions and values that help to define us and which have withstood the test of time and adversity.

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A woman takes a photograph of the Papal Altar at Phoenix park in Dublin on August 23, 2018, prior to the visit by Pope Francis to Ireland on August 25-26. Pic Paul Faith PA

"The visit of Pope Francis can and should contribute to the new and positive relationship which has been developing between the Irish State and the Catholic Church."

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Accident: Michelle O’Neill
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A woman takes a photograph of the Papal Altar at Phoenix park in Dublin on August 23, 2018, prior to the visit by Pope Francis to Ireland on August 25-26. Pic Paul Faith PA
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An LGBT choir protests outside the world meeting of families in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 23, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope LGBT. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Former Manchester United footballer Father Philip Mulryan speaking at the world meeting of families in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 23, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Sport . Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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KNOCK, IRELAND - AUGUST 23: Statues of Pope Francis sit alongside other memorabilia on sale ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland on August 23, 2018 in Knock, Ireland. Pope Francis will visit the small visit of knock on the second day of the first papal visit to Ireland in forty years. The Roman Catholic pilgrimage site is famous for it's shrine where the Blessed Virgin Mary was said to appear to villagers in an apparition along with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist in 1879. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
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KNOCK, IRELAND - AUGUST 23: Sacred heart framed photographs sit alongside other of memorabilia on sale ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland on August 23, 2018 in Knock, Ireland. Pope Francis will visit the small visit of knock on the second day of the first papal visit to Ireland in forty years. The Roman Catholic pilgrimage site is famous for it's shrine where the Blessed Virgin Mary was said to appear to villagers in an apparition along with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist in 1879. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
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KNOCK, IRELAND - AUGUST 23: Statues of Pope Francis sit alongside other memorabilia on sale ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland on August 23, 2018 in Knock, Ireland. Pope Francis will visit the small visit of knock on the second day of the first papal visit to Ireland in forty years. The Roman Catholic pilgrimage site is famous for it's shrine where the Blessed Virgin Mary was said to appear to villagers in an apparition along with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist in 1879. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
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KNOCK, IRELAND - AUGUST 23: General views of some of the memorabilia including holy water bottles on sale ahead of the Pope's visit to Ireland on August 23, 2018 in Knock, Ireland. Pope Francis will visit the small visit of knock on the second day of the first papal visit to Ireland in forty years. The Roman Catholic pilgrimage site is famous for it's shrine where the Blessed Virgin Mary was said to appear to villagers in an apparition along with Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist in 1879. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis dolls are on sale at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin on August 23, 2018. - Pope Francis will be visiting Ireland on August 25 to take part in the World Meeting of Families, a global Catholic gathering. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
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Nuns wait for a service to begin at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin on August 23, 2018. - Pope Francis will be visiting Ireland on August 25 to take part in the World Meeting of Families, a global Catholic gathering. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
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An art Installation by Mannix Flynn in Dublin City centre ahead of the Popes visit to Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday August 23, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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The Papal Altar is pictured at Phoenix park in Dublin on August 23, 2018, prior to the visit by Pope Francis to Ireland on August 25-26. - Pope Francis will be visiting Ireland on August 25 to take part in the World Meeting of Families, a global Catholic gathering. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
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Pope Francis dolls on sale at the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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A general view of the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Cardinal Kevin Farrell during the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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A general view of the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Archbishop Diarmuid Martin arrives for the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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A general view of the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Pope Francis candles on sale before the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Canada arrives for the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Pope Francis T shirts on sale before the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families . Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Pope Francis dolls on sale at the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Pope Francis dolls on sale at the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Gerald Cyprien Lacroix of Canada arrives for the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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Pilgrims arrive for the opening ceremony of the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday August 21, 2018. See PA story IRISH Pope Families. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire