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No communication Waterford priest says he will go ahead with confirmations as restrictions confusion mounts

'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'

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar

A priest in Waterford has said he will go ahead with confirmations due to take place next weekend, as confusion mounts regarding the staging of religious celebrations. 

Fr Michael Toomey, who is the administrator of Ardfinnan/ Ballybacon/ Grange and Newcastle/ Fourmilewater in the diocese of Waterford & Lismore, revealed that confirmations in his area are due to take place on July 9 and 11.

He told The Pat Kenny Show that intends to continue with planning for the events even though there's no official word from Government yet on whether they can proceed.

"There's nothing,” he said. “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 10, churches have been reopen to celebrate mass and all other faiths as well. We will have stringent protocols - we've been following all the advice from NPHET and the Government."

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 5.

However, there has been no official information about communions, confirmations or baptisms while on the Government website, weddings are described as an "exception" to the rules around indoor activities.

When asked about them at a press conference yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar simply said "they’re off"

However, Fr Toomey described the Tánaiste's comments as "off the cuff", and there's been no written directive around communions, confirmations and baptisms.

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.

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"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."

It comes as the Taoiseach revealed how Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned him in a telephone call yesterday that the Delta variant will “rip through an unvaccinated population”.

“Covid has been devastating for the hospitality industry, I know that,” Micheál Martin said. “It's been devastating for travel and tourism since the very beginning, not just here but around the world. And it's been devastating for many societies.

“I spoke with Nicola Sturgeon First Minister of Scotland and she used a very telling phrase. She said Delta will rip through an unvaccinated population.

“All their eggs are in the vaccination basket. They are 60pc fully vaccinated, and there is some hopeful signs there may be a breaking of the link between case numbers and hospitalisations, but that is not certain yet and will take more monitoring.”

Describing the Delta variant as “a cloud on the horizon” that was originally seen as a low to medium risk, Mr Martin said the modelling received on Monday “certainly made the decision to pause and delay the reopening of hospitality the right decision”.

Despite this, Labour Party leader Alan Kelly said what the Government had decided was “morally totally wrong”.

“You can’t have a situation where the vaccinated are going to enjoy their summer because the unvaccinated are serving them,” he said.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said the Government had made a “shocking announcement” of an indefinite postponement of the reopening of hospitality.

She wanted to know when Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan had advised the Taoiseach of the threat posed by the variant, and how long it would take to devise a Covid pass to dine or drink indoors.

And Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Taoiseach has “marched the hospitality sector to the top of the hill, only to march them back down again”.

“The message to young people is that they are less deserving than people who are older than them,” she said.

“It’s perfectly legitimate for young people to want to socialise together and to meet up with their friends. They were told that they would have an outdoor summer. And yet when they socialise outdoors they are then treated as a nuisance and a threat and a problem."

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