variant fears | 

HSE call for deferral of Communions and Confirmations in Mid-West over rising case numbers

Communions and Confirmations were due to resume on July 5


Amy Molloy and Fionnan Sheahan

The HSE has appealed to bishops in the Mid-West to defer First Communions and Confirmations due to concerns about the number of Covid cases in the region, has learned.

The recommendation was issued to the relevant diocesan offices in a letter from HSE Mid-West yesterday morning in the region that has experienced a spike in Covid cases in recent weeks.

First Communions and Confirmations were due to be permitted again from July 5 under the next phase of lifting of lockdown restrictions, subject to limits on numbers.

However, the HSE has now asked that all ceremonies be delayed until September.

It comes as Taoiseach Micheál Martin revealed that the next phase of reopening could be delayed until later in July.

Indoor hospitality is due to resume on July 5, while the number of people allowed in households, at weddings and indoor and outdoor gatherings is also due to increase.

However, this may be put on hold amid concerns about the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The Health Service Executive wrote to bishops in Tipperary, Limerick and Clare yesterday expressing concern about First Communions and Confirmations going ahead.

The Mid-West region has experienced a spike in Covid cases over the past few weeks, although that has abated in recent days.

Some parishes had already taken the decision to defer Communions and Confirmations until autumn at the start of the year while Ireland was still in lockdown.

Others had planned for the events to go ahead during the summer once they were allowed again.

This latest news will come as a blow to thousands of parents and children.

In April, Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy said that First Holy Communions and Confirmations across the diocese were to be celebrated from July, subject to Covid-19 guidelines.

Since May 10, 50 people have been allowed to attend a wedding or funeral service, but public health advice was that Communions and Confirmations should not take place in May or June.

In a statement, the HSE said: “It is our view that these services should be deferred until this September due to a number of factors, including: The current high rate of Covid-19 infection in the Mid-West region, and by September most of those eligible should be fully vaccinated against Covid.

“While we are confident that churches and places of worship have been generally safe environments within the parameters of Public Health guidelines, indoor gatherings and celebrations traditionally associated with Communions and Confirmations are considered high-risk settings for those who are unvaccinated.”

The HSE spokesperson added that while the incidence of the Delta variant in the mid-west region remains low, “we are concerned about the increase in transmission of the Delta variant nationwide.” has contacted the relevant diocesan offices for comment.

A source said: “Communions are largely deferred until the autumn anyway but Confirmations were going ahead.

“Why is the same rationale not being attached to weddings and funerals?”

The source queried whether it was an instruction or guidance.

“It’s not a way to deal with public health,” the source said. “Is it up to HSE Mid-West to make such a huge call?”

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