Father Bob Maguire loses wheels used to feed Melbourne's poor over bikie gang sticker
August 30, 2012
FATHER Bob Maguire has fallen out with a generous benefactor whose mobile soup kitchen was branded with a bikie gang's advertising.
Fr Maguire claims the van he was using - named the Hopemobile and used to feed Melbourne's poor - was in disrepair when several South Melbourne businesses came to the rescue.
It was fixed earlier this month for free.
But the van belongs to philanthropist and Stockdale & Leggo chief executive officer Peter Thomas.
The trouble started after the men who allegedly worked on the vehicle - including the installation of a state-of-the-art kitchen - were asked by Fr Maguire to put their business names on the side of the vehicle as a thank-you gesture.
One of the workers, believed to be a Comanchero member, placed a large sticker advertising the outlaw gang.
Fr Maguire lost access to the vehicle after the prominent placing upset Mr Thomas, who told the Herald Sun he had not given Fr Maguire permission to use the kitchen, let alone have advertising placed on it.
He had believed an employee was tending to the van's operation.
"I have been doing this for 12 years and it is not Bob Maguire's soup kitchen, it is mine. I did not know he was using it and I have never met these people and I do not know these businesses (advertised)," he said.
He today rejected suggestions the van was poorly maintained or that a kitchen was ever installed.
And he said the mobile kitchen would continue to operate and feed Melbourne’s homeless, and hoped to add to the fleet in the future
But Fr Maguire said he had been using the mobile kitchen for years.
"(It) was our last remaining independent food van ... but it was running out of puff," he said.
"I told a local (panel beater) and he said, 'Leave it to me'. (A group of local businesses) did everything, it looked fantastic, new kitchen and everything.
"One of them thought it was a good idea to put a sticker (advertising the Comancheros), and I guess some of them thought it was too prominent. But we didn't know it was going to be put on."
Fr Maguire said he had no problem with bikie gangs.
"It's a free country, and it's important to love the unloved and especially the unlovely," he said.
"It is sad, you are going to be guilty by association. When the Comancheros arrived in (South Melbourne) I put a note in the paper ... that the parish welcome its latest parishioners."
Fr Maguire, whose charity moved to Albert Park after he was removed from his South Melbourne parish in February, says he now desperately needs a food van.