“A critical moment for the future of faith in Ireland”: Court challenge must continue as Ireland announces partial lifting of worship ban
- Irish government announced a partial lifting of blanket ban on worship, which has been in place for most of the past year
- Declan Ganley, businessman, continues case to ensure that government is held to account and blanket ban is not repeated in future
DUBLIN (30 April 2021) – Ireland will no longer be the only place in Europe to have completely prohibited public worship – so announced the government on 29 April, signalling a partial lifting of the disproportionate ban as of 10 May. Throughout the pandemic, churches have faced forced closure, despite supermarkets, hardware stores and bicycle shops being allowed to remain open with safety measures in place. The disproportionate treatment of churches compared to places of commerce has triggered a legal challenge to the government’s ban.
In the face of the challenge and amidst public pressure, the government announced that church service can resume from 10 May with face coverings, distancing, and a limit of 50 worshippers.
Declan Ganley, who filed a challenge after seeing the impact on all faith communities, is redoubling his efforts to ensure that the blanket ban on worship will never be imposed again and to hold the government to account.
“I welcome the steps that the government is taking to reopen churches. However, this does not reverse the fact that for most of the past year, churches have been subjected to unfair treatment in comparison to places of commerce,” said Declan Ganley, in response to the government’s statement.
“There is no clear explanation as to why the Irish people should have been deprived of an essential source of comfort and hope in such a time of national grief. There’s no clear logic as to why an airy, open church, with plenty of space, should be considered somehow more dangerous than a bicycle shop. Are people of faith really more contagious than others?” he continued.
“We know from the case of Canon Tom White in Scotland that the decision to completely ban public worship is an unlawful one that unnecessarily suspends fundamental human rights. While I’m very thankful that church doors will once again open in Ireland, this case remains important. Now more than ever, we need a clear decision from the court as to whether this draconian ban was ever justified in the first place. And it is also a critical moment for the future of faith in Ireland. The courts now have the opportunity to ensure that the community is never again deprived access to a place to meet with God and minister to the suffering at a time of need.”