'They're praying for the community' - Rónán Mullen says churches should be open


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

12.05 8 Oct 2020


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An Independent Senator says churches should be allowed to open for worship under level three coronavirus restrictions.

Rónán Mullen has claimed the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is not aware of "just how deep this goes for people of faith".

Under level three, religious services have been moved online - but places of worship remain open for private prayer.

Seantor Mullen told Pat Kenny: "Freedom of worship is important, in fact it's Constitutionally protected: Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality.

"But it's mainly a demographic that's older - not completely - it's the very demographic that is being restricted in other ways.

"There's a huge consolation and significance for people of faith to gather together - where two or three are gathered and so on.

"There's the importance of the sacraments, there's even the fact they they're praying for the entire community.

"It's one of the few situations where people aren't working, where they're actually not just thinking of themselves and their own enjoyment.

"So there is a cultural benefit to this, whether you're a believer or not.

'Low risk situation'

"I believe that given that it's such a low risk situation, it should be possible within a level three context certainly to say - people can go in to restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, your average size supermarket is letting in 80 or 100 people at a time - I just wonder whether NPEHT and others are sufficiently aware of just how deep this goes for people of faith".

He said it should be up to churches to organise "a certain amount of public worship, until some evidence shows that that is also a health problem".

He also hit out at what he called 'structured obstruction' by the Gardaí.

"I find it ironic that in many ways we're going into a more dangerous situation now than we were in in the spring, and yet there seems to more dissent about restrictions.

"We're in a rapidly evolving situation.

"I live half the week at close quarters with my parents, so I'm actually very conscious of the importance of restrictions - and I'm onboard generally.

"I've no problem with Garda checkpoints, but what I didn't like in the line coming from the Gardaí yesterday was almost kind of highlighting the fact that there was going to be delays to discourage people going on the road.

"There was a suggestion that by funneling traffic into a single lane, basically frustrate the motorist and keep them off the road.

"And I don't like that kind of structured obstruction of people.

"I'm all for Gardaí asking: 'Where are you going? Have you a good reason to be travelling?' - that's fine, I just didn't like this tone that we're going to kind of put the apparatus of the State in motion to obstruct people".

'They're praying for the community' - Rónán Mullen says churches should be open

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Main image: Senator Ronan Mullen pictured at the official photocall for the first meeting of the 24th Seanad in 2011. Picture by: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

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Churches Level Three Restrictions NPHET Pat Kenny People Of Faith Places Of Worship Seantor Rónán Mullen

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