Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.40 30 Jun 2021


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Updated 14:35

A Government spokesperson has confirmed confirmations, communions and baptisms are suspended.

There had been confusion after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar simply said "they’re off" when asked about them at a press conference yesterday.

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There was no official confirmation on the Government's website and this morning, one Waterford priest said he plans to press ahead with plans for the ceremonies next weekend due to the lack of information.

This afternoon, a Government spokesperson said all three should be postponed following NPHET advice over the Delta variant and the website will be updated soon.

"It is advised that religious ceremonies such as baptisms, first holy communions and confirmations should not take place at this time," said the spokesperson.

"Further advice will follow on resumption of these ceremonies when it is safe to do so."

Guests at weddings can still increase to 50 after July 5th.

On the Government website, weddings are described as an "exception" to the rules around indoor activities.

While churches have been open for over a month, it had previously been expected that other religious ceremonies would get be able to proceed from July 5th.

Fr Michael Toomey - administrator of Ardfinnan/ Ballybacon/ Grange and Newcastle/ Fourmilewater in the diocese of Waterford & Lismore - spoke to The Pat Kenny Show.

Confirmations in his area are due to take place on July 9th and 11th, and Fr Toomey intended to continue with the planning given the current confusion.

He said the Tánaiste's comments were "off the cuff", and there had been no written directive around communions, confirmations and baptisms.

He said: "There's nothing - there's been no communication from Government, that I'm aware of, to bishops or indeed the priests.

"Until I get that confirmation through my own bishop, I'm going to have to continue planning for my confirmations for next weekend. We've already postponed once.

"Since May 10th, churches have been reopen to celebrate mass - and all other faiths [have resumed worship] as well. We will have stringent protocols - we've been following all the advice from NPHET and the Government."

He said his concern is the Government is worried about after parties and celebrations, rather than the ceremony itself.

However, what he's hearing is that many already planned small family gatherings will still go ahead even if the confirmations themselves don't happen.

He said parents and their children are "more than welcome" to not take part next week if they don't feel it's safe, stressing this isn't a case of a priest simply insisting the ceremony is going ahead for everyone.

Fr Toomey said: "I would just appeal to NPHET, the Government to sit down with the priests, bishops, other religious [leaders]... and ask how we can work together.

"Just don't tar us all with the one brush and say 'sorry, they're off' - that's just not good enough anymore, I'm afraid."

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Con Tanasiuk/Zuma Press/PA Images

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