6 November 2020
By Mary Bermingham
Aontú Rep for Cork North-West Becky Kealy has called the ban on religious services – as part of Level 5 COVID19 restrictions – “an encroachment on Human and constitutional rights” and has welcomed the High Court challenge to open up religious services once more.
Becky Kealy: “Throughout the pandemic, people of faith have conducted themselves in utmost good faith in comporting with government restrictions. People of faith have been stopped from going to religious services for months on end now, and are unfairly targeted and dismissed in each new round of restrictions. Ireland’s ban on religious practices marks it out as an outlier in Europe, with only North Korea and Saudi Arabia having any way similar bans. Despite the tempered and reasonable request for socially-distanced religious services, the government have continued to dismiss our requests. I welcome the fact that now a private Irish citizen is challenging the legality of the ban in the High Court.”
“There is no evidence linking an outbreak or cluster of Covid-19 cases to a religious service. Rather what we can say is that the mental and spiritual health of people of faith – particularly the elderly – has been badly impacted by the inability to practice their faith. Through such dark times as we are in, faith is a beacon of light and a necessary support for millions of Irish people. By banning religious services, the Irish government has dimmed that light and undermined that support and strength garnered from faith.”
“It is of particular concern and worry for people of faith like myself that it takes a High Court challenge to even begin challenging the government’s religious services ban. Rather than engage with people of faith, the government are going to have to be compelled by the Courts of the land to change their ban and allow religious services to go ahead when people need them most.”