'Peaceful protester' purchases 800 tickets for the Pope's visit with plans to bin them 1 year ago

'Peaceful protester' purchases 800 tickets for the Pope's visit with plans to bin them

"It's the most peaceful way it could be done."

A group of self-proclaimed "peaceful protesters" from Ireland have rallied together in an attempt to acquire a huge amount of free tickets for the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland, and not use them, to ensure a low turnout at events.

The movement is led by a controversial Facebook event entitled Say Nope To The Pope, which is protesting the Pontiff's planned visit and encouraging people who object to the Catholic Church to book tickets in their dozens and not turn up to the events in both Phoenix Park and Knock.

At time of writing, the event boasts 1,100 people who clicked 'attending', and a further 4,000 who clicked 'interested'.

Tickets for the visit of Pope Francis were made available on Monday, and ever since, the group have been picking up tickets with no intent on using them, including one man who booked 800 tickets on the World Meeting of Families website.

JOE spoke to 32-year-old Jonathan Keane about what piqued his interest in the idea.

"What made me get involved, I suppose, is that I'm really interested in history, especially the the history of and effects that the Catholic Church have in Ireland – and whether you go back 900 years ago or a month ago you can see it," Keane said.

"It's all negative stuff, scandal after scandal, and I just thought the idea of a peaceful protest was a brilliant peaceful way of saying no to the Pope.

"I bought 800 tickets. There's 12 per person but you can multiply it, so I started off with a few as I was sitting there in the sun on my phone. I was maybe there for an hour on my phone in the end.

Keane had to conjure up three different aliases to submit enough applications to accumulate the mammoth sum of 800 tickets.

"It's the most peaceful way it could be done," he added.

"I'm not going to attend [the Papal events]. If people were to protest at the event itself, who knows what could happen. I have been involved in peaceful protests before and they have ended up in riots - so this is the way it should be done."

A number of protesters found a way of getting around the 12 ticket limit, by opting for an elective 'Parish/Coach option', which allows punters to submit applications for 600 tickets at one time.

As of 5pm on Monday, 285,000 of the 500,000 tickets for the papal Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park had been secured.

All 45,000 tickets for the Pope’s visit to Knock shrine, in Mayo had also been booked out by 9.10am on Monday morning.

Tickets are free, but people are prompted to consider making a donation when booking.

A number of people involved in the Facebook page and the protest have received waves of online criticism, condemning them for eliminating choice and adopting a small-minded vantage point.

A boards.ie thread has also ignited conversation on the topic, with a number of commenters claiming that they believe the protest is "a bit pointless."

Others have commended them for, ironically, "doing God's work."

Pope Francis will visit Ireland on 25 and 26 August. His full itinerary for his visit can be seen here.