Independent TD for Laois Offaly Carol Nolan has said that churches feel “singled out” as a target for stricter application of the social distancing rules.

Deputy Nolan says she has written to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, urging that a far greater level of discretion be given to individual local churches regarding the numbers who can attend Mass or other religious services.

Deputy Nolan was speaking after senior Catholic Church leaders and priests in the constituency expressed frustration and disappointment at being told that attendance was to be limited to just 50 people regardless of the size of the church.

“There is a real sense out there that the churches and the parishes were almost being singled out for a stricter application of the social distancing rules,” she said.

We have to show a bit of cop on in this matter and accept that the parishes are more than capable of using their discretion to match the number of those willing to attend Mass with the capacity of the church itself.

This one size fits all approach is just completely unnecessary from a public safety point of view.

I understand that The National Public Health Emergency Team are reconsidering the current limit of 50 people today, so hopefully common sense will win out.

I know from my own conversations with people that they are desperately missing being able to physically attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. We have to address that immediately.

There are many hundreds of thousands of people out there whose faith is extremely important to them. They are not the kind of people to make a fuss or set their face against public health policy.

But they do want the capacity of their churches to be recognised and for community Masses to be able to get back up and going again. I support them 100% in that,” concluded Deputy Nolan.