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Priests could be jailed for saying Mass during Level 5 lockdown, TD claims

Michael McNamara TD

Michael McNamara TD

Patrick O'Connell

PRIESTS could face criminal sanction or jail if they open the doors of their church for mass during level 5 lockdown, a TD has warned.

Deputy Michael McNamara raised the possibility in the Dail on Friday during an exchange about new penalties for Covid 19 rule breakers.

Deputy McNamara said: “Priests will be committing a criminal offence if they open the doors of their churches for Mass.

“I know that lots of priests do not want to say Mass and do not believe it is appropriate. That is their prerogative.

“I am not a mass-goer, but I know how important it is in the community I represent for people to go to Mass or to a church or mosque.

“The Government is denying them that.

“Is the Government going to send gardaí after priests who decide to say Mass?

“If the Government is thinking of that, I have one word to say, ‘Don’t’.”

In response, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said he did not believe religious services were subject to the penalty.

“I assure the Deputy and other colleagues that with regard to penalties, religious services are non-penal in that there is no penalty attached to them,” he said.

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