The Irish government said a Covid-19-related ban on Catholics attending Mass will be lifted on 10th May.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin made the announcement in an address to the nation on 29th April as he revealed a new road map for the reopening of society.
Public worship has been banned since 26th December amid increased cases – a move accepted by the Irish bishops’ conference and other faith leaders. However, the government provoked controversy earlier in April when Health Minister Stephen Donnelly made it a criminal offence for a priest to plan a public Mass or a Catholic to leave home to participate in Mass.
The Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, described this move as both “provocative” and “draconian”.
The Taoiseach announced in a televised address that up to 50 people will be permitted to attend Mass beginning on 10th May. Up to 50 people will also be able to gather for funerals and wedding ceremonies; however wedding receptions will be restricted to just six people, or 15 people if the reception takes place outdoors.
Ireland had the strictest restrictions on religious services in Europe and currently remains the only jurisdiction in the European Union where a ban on people attending ceremonies exists.
Three of Ireland’s 26 dioceses straddle the border with Northern Ireland and, north of the border, public worship has been permitted since 26th March.
Picture: Concerned Catholics protest Ireland‘s ongoing cancellation of public Mass in Cork City on 29th April 2021, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Irish government has confirmed that a controversial Covid-19-related ban on Catholics attending Mass will be lifted on 10th May. (CNS photo/Cillian Kelly).