News & Media

Urgent guidance needed on Christmas religious services

16 November 2020

Statement by Seán Sherlock TD
Parliamentary Party Chair and Spokesperson on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands; Agriculture and the Marine
  • Level 3 does not allow for religious services while Level 2 has a cap of 50 people.

With less than six weeks to Christmas, Labour Community spokesperson Seán Sherlock TD, has called for guidance on what level of religious services will be allowed during the Christmas period so that Church leaders, and other faiths, can plan safely for a return of services as there are significant differences between what is allowed at Level 2 and Level 3 respectively.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“We can’t talk about Christmas without some certainty on what will be allowed for religious services. For a lot of people it’s central to their Christmas and their faith.

“If we move back to Level 3, then that means no religious services can take place and if it’s level 2 then it’s a cap of 50 people attending. So if this is to happen , a special dispensation would have to be granted or a blurring of the current levels would have to take place.”

“Churches across the country will need guidance on what they will be allowed to do for Christmas. Will there be no masses, will there be a limit, what will be permitted?

“Local church leaders need some time if they are to plan for Christmas, and ensure they are compliant with public health guidance.

“Because Christmas services are so meaningful for people, there will need to be some special arrangements that ensures against big crowds attending masses.

“Personally, I think Christmas masses should be allowed, and what needs to be worked out is the form they take. Other religions should also be allowed to return to some level of service once we come out of Level 5.

“With less than six weeks now to Christmas, the government and public health officials need to start a process of engaging with Church leaders so that there is a lead in time to work out how Christmas might work.”