TDs have lashed out at a government decision to ban Communions and Confirmations, saying the “draconian” restrictions show a “deep-rooted bias against religious freedoms” – and claimed that NPHET had not advised the government to stop the sacraments.
The Rural Independent Group said that the government’s “extended ban on children’s sacraments” was tantamount to a “religious crackdown” which they said “would be expected in Communist China, but cannot be tolerated in Ireland.” They called for the ban on religious sacraments to be lifted.
Leo Varadkar’s comment at a press conference this week that Communions and Confirmations were “off” were seen as an “off the cuff” dismissal of the concerns of Catholics and caused anger.
The Rural TDs called for an immediate reversal of what they said was a “political decision”.
Speaking from Leinster House, the leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mattie Mc Grath, stated: “It has now become clear that the decision to ban planned religious sacraments, such as first holy communion and confirmations for the foreseeable future, has been taken by the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green government and not recommended by NPHET.”
“As such, we are calling on the Taoiseach to clarify as to why the government he leads has made this dreadful decision, despite no recommendations from public health officials or NPHET to do so.
“This decision was political and taken, despite assurances from State officials that places of worship are safe. The callous decision was disgracefully taken without any consultation with religious authorities, teachers or parents,” he said.
The Tipperary TD said: “This decision, taken without any public health request, speaks volumes of the government’s deeply rooted agenda against the Catholic church and other religions here in Ireland.”
“This decision to ban confirmation and communion ceremonies over the summer months is a real hammer blow to parents and children, who have been waiting, preparing and excited about the prospect of celebrating the various ceremonies.”
A statement by the TDs said that many families “have been waiting for over a year to celebrate these sacraments. Now, their plans have been shattered by a government far removed from the realities being faced by ordinary people.”
“Parents are rightly furious with this decision. My colleagues and I have heard from parents and parish priests who feel utterly let down by the government on this issue, as events had been planned in anticipation of previous commitments given,” they said.
“Children and young people are being disgracefully treated by this government. The ongoing combination of uncertainty, lack of clarity and spin is having a dangerous impact on youth mental health.”
The group – including Carol Nolan TD, Michael Collins TD, Richard O’Donoghue TD and Danny Healy Rae TD – said the government’s “ongoing attack on religious freedoms is the most draconian in the western world and is systematically appalling.”
“Today, we are calling on the government to immediately reverse the ban on celebrating all religious sacraments. This would allow all planned ceremonies to proceed and for the government to remedy this situation.”