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A man dressed as a priest has just invaded the stage at the Rose of Tralee

Matt O’Connor, a second-generation Irishman who lives in London, has taken responsibility for the protest and asked for the audience to pray for those affected by family breakdown.

The Fathers4Justice protestor behind the supremely serene Cavan Rose Lisa Reilly.
The Fathers4Justice protestor behind the supremely serene Cavan Rose Lisa Reilly.
Image: RTÉ

THE ROSE OF Tralee was interrupted this evening when the founder of the fathers’ rights group Fathers4Justice crashed the stage and disrupted the live broadcast.

Matt O’Connor, who was dressed as a priest, strolled on stage carrying a sign that read “In the name of the father” and could be heard shouting, “Fathers for justice!”

Cameras quickly panned away from the stage and a promo for a competition was broadcast while the gatecrasher was tackled and escorted from the stage.

Fathers4Justice, who have carried out similar stunts over the years, took responsibility for the incident on Twitter shortly afterwards.

unnamed Matt O'Connor with the sign he unfurled on the Rose of Tralee stage. Source: Fathers4Justice

O’Connor, a 49-year-old second generation Irishman from County Kerry who lives in Clapham London.

In a statement, Fathers4Justice said O’Connor “held a picture of his son Archie and asked the audience to pray for the 1000s of fathers and children affected by family breakdown in Ireland”.

This is the new Rising - 100,000 Irish children are partitioned from their fathers and denied their human rights.

“The Rose of Tralee has lots of beauty, but there is nothing beautiful about family law.

We want equal rights for fathers in Ireland. It is a human right for children to see their fathers.

“This is a public health warning, your families are at risk from the cancer of family breakdown and fatherlessness.”

With reporting from Darragh Peter Murphy.

More: Night One of the Rose of Tralee 2016: Liveblog >

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