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“A critical moment for the future of faith in Ireland”


Topic | Freedom of Worship

Throughout the pandemic, public worship in Ireland was forbidden for almost a full year, with criminal penalties imposed on those who left their homes to attend services and masses. Despite commercial public venues such as dry cleaners and off-licenses being allowed to open with safety measures in place, worship in church was strictly prohibited.

On 10 May, churches were allowed to reopen at a limited capacity. However, the Irish government has never acknowledged that the blanket ban was wrong, meaning that it could be reinstated in response to future situations.

Declan Ganley


Advocacy Team:
Lorcan Price

"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?"

Case Summary

ADF International is supporting Declan Ganley, who filed a legal challenge after seeing the impact of the worship ban on all faith communities. The businessman is hoping to ensure that the blanket ban on worship will never be imposed again and to hold the government to account.

Ganley’s claim for a judicial review into the disproportionate ban mirrors that of Canon Tom White in Scotland. In March, the Glasgow priest joined with 27 other faith leaders to successfully have the Scottish government’s blanket ban on worship ruled unlawful and struck down. The businessman is hopeful for a similar decision from the Irish court.

“We know from the case of Canon Tom White in Scotland that the decision to completely ban public worship is an unlawful one. While I am 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,” said Ganley.

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