Permit Easter ceremonies - O'Reilly

The first citizen of County Cavan is calling for restrictions around religious ceremonies to be eased in time for Easter Week.

Cllr Sarah O'Reilly (Aontú) has issued a statement in relation to the matter in which she states she supports the reopening of places of worship for religious services in time for Easter.

"Religious practice is a human right according to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It is an essential element in the lives of many people in Ireland. Religious practice plays a significant role in the wellbeing of many people especially, now in these times," said the Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council.

"Ireland is one of only two countries in Europe where a person of faith cannot attend religious services. Since the start of Covid-19, this government have taken a far more restrictive policy against the holding of Church services than any other country in the world except North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

"Gardaí have told priests to stop giving out Communion. Religious services were suspended last Easter, and will be so again for this Easter, if FF, FG and the Greens do not change their minds," said Cllr O'Reilly.

She said that all religions had been affected by the closures.

"We understand the damage to health and life that has been wrought by Covid and the government’s handling of it. Ireland has had the longest and most severe lockdown of any other EU country. Government policy in terms of travel, Nursing Homes, health care capacity, inoculation and all Ireland co-operation has led to much of the devastation that has happened in this country," said the Bailieborough based councillor.

"No one is disputing that Covid-19 is a serious threat to the well-being of the Irish people, however Churches are often by far the largest buildings in a town. It is possible for a number of people socially-distanced to attend religious services safely.

"Communities of faith have shown extraordinary goodwill in following government guidelines strictly in spite of the burden these restrictions have placed upon their faiths and the practising of their faith.

"We call on the government to publish plans now in order that a gentle easing of restrictions for religious services can happen for Easter Week," concluded Cllr O'Reilly.