A BANTRY priest has spoken out about the ‘overwhelmingly positive’ reaction he has got since agreeing to participate in the town’s Strictly Dancing competition.
Fr James McSweeney’s comments come in the wake of the reaction to dancing priest Fr Ray Kelly, who is in this year’s Dancing with the Stars on RTÉ.
Fr Kelly revealed on the show on Sunday night, and in radio interviews during the week, that he had received a lot of nasty comments in the post and in emails about a priest dancing with ladies on the show. But Fr McSweeney – who appeared on the front page of The Southern Star, after the recent launch of Strictly Bantry 2020 – said he has had no negative reaction at all to his decision to join the dancing show.
‘My participation in Bantry Come Dancing has been overwhelming positive,’ he told The Southern Star this week. ‘Everyone is hugely supportive and I personally have not received any negativity. At the heart of my participation is helping to build community spirit and participation.’
Fr McSweeney, who is part of the show which is a fundraiser for St Finbarr’s Boys NS, added: ‘I’m supporting a hugely deserving cause. I’m delighted to be part of such a positive good news story.’
‘Our world and lives are often swamped with negative news stories,’ he said. ‘Taking part in this local dancing event is an expression of everything good and positive within a community. It’s a winning situation from whatever angle you look at it.’
The Bantry priest said it was sad to hear that Fr Ray was getting some negative reaction and even getting abusive phone calls. ‘No one deserves that,’ said Fr McSweeney.
‘Clearly everyone knows he is not a pro dancer but he shows how simple dancing is good and positive, not just for our physical health, but also our mental and spiritual health too. His only agenda on the programme is simplicity, fun, laughter and an “always do your best” attitude. No wonder so many are still voting for him!’