The importance of the Church community in many people’s lives, at a time of stress and worry, is being completely ignored by the government.
The Rural Independent Group have sought to move a Topical Issue debate in Dail Éireann tomorrow (Thursday 4th March), seeking to have churches and places of worship reopened in time for Easter.
Speaking at a press conference, from Leinster House today (Wednesday 3rd March 2021), the leader of the Group, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath stated:
“We are now almost one year into this pandemic. Throughout the majority of that time physical attendance at public worshipped has been denied. Unfortunately, we are hearing daily of the profound damage that this is causing to many people. We know that churches are a vital lifeline to many who have been struggling with loneliness and other negative effects of lockdown.”
“Equally, we fully acknowledge the need to take necessary health measures during this pandemic. Up to now however, the absence of published data aiming to support the Government’s ban public worship has led many to conclude that it is backed less by science and more by an inability to grasp the fundamental constitutional importance of public worship. From the European perspective, Ireland has been, and remains a lonely outlier in this regard.”
“The Irish public want to support the Government to take the right decisions, and to do what we need to have the best possible future. However, this means using the right data and the proper information in making all decisions.”
“Last November, we wrote to the Taoiseach, seeking for the publication of the scientific advice around banning public worship. No evidence was forthcoming.”
“However, my colleague Deputy Nolan recently received a PQ reply in which the Minister for Health and the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG), explicitly accepted that it is and I quote “ not feasible to provide reliable estimates of the impact on R of very specific interventions,” such as the closing of churches and the denial of public access to the sacraments. Yet, despite this inability to create a cause and effect link between closing churches and a change in the R number, this government has decided to adopt the harshest and most draconian possible approach. We are urging a more prudent and responsible approach.”
“The government, whether intentional or not, is sending out the message that it does not fully understand the importance of people’s sacramental and spiritual needs. This denial not only threatens the principle of religious freedom but jeopardises people’s personal well-being.”
“The ongoing curtailment of religious liberty is having a severe impact. Rather than being focused and time limited, it is seemingly restricted indefinitely. That is why we are moving tomorrow’s debate, endeavouring to have places of worship opened, in a limited way, for Easter. We hope the government will listen.”
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