A couple refusing to pay a €300 fine for breaching COVID travel rules say they will go to jail to honour Jesus Christ.
Retired firefighter Jim Ryan and his wife Ann, a retired nurse, are refusing to pay their fine for travelling 70km to attend mass on Palm Sunday of last year.
The 5km travel rule was still in place at the time as the country continued its recovery from the post-Christmas surge in cases.
Earlier this month, the County Roscommon couple found themselves in court for the first time in their lives over the breach.
They have appealed their conviction and have pledged to go to jail rather than paying the fine.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Jim Ryan said he has no intention of paying the fine.
He said he believes that when a priest consecrates bread and wine during mass it “becomes the actual body of Jesus Christ”, insisting that online mass is no substitute for the real thing.
“The most important thing to me in this world is to be in the presence of Jesus,” he said.
“That is what our forefathers fought for when we fought for independence. My grandfather fought for it and it was enshrined in the constitution under Article 44.
“A mass online has its place, I’m not denying that, but it's online. When you are at mass you are in the physical presence of Jesus.
“To me, there is nothing more important for my soul than to be in the presence of Jesus and to go and receive Jesus’ body. I would love to receive his blood, but they won’t let me.”
He said he is honouring Jesus by choosing jail over payment of the fine.
“I went to mass on Palm Sunday,” he said. “The day Jesus rode his donkey into Jerusalem; he knew exactly what he was facing.
“The Church doesn’t make enough of Jesus’ passion; of what he went through. He was lashed with a whip with talons on the end of it that ripped the flesh of his body.
“He had a crown of thorns thrust into his head. Now, we think of a crown of thorns as a briar but out in the Holy Lands, the thorns are as long and as hard ... they thrust into his skull; into his eyes.
“He was then nailed to a cross, through his hands and he did all this for our sins – and I can’t go and sit it out in a jail for few weeks to honour that man?”
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