Gardaí establish strong presence in town where parish priest refuses to turn faithful away from Mass
29th March 2021
GARDAI today set up a visible presence in a town where the local parish priest has continued to say Mass and has refused to turn away the faithful.
Earlier this month Fr PJ Hughes, parish priest for Mullahoran, in Co Cavan, was issued with a €500 fine for celebrating Mass in his local church while several people were present.
He had been reported a number of times to gardaí over parishioners gathering for a service in his church.
Local media had reported there was a protest planned today by local parishioners in support of Fr Hughes.
Gardaí were called in to attend the area.
A statement from the Garda press office said officers were aware of a religious service that took place at Mullahoran this morning at 10am.
“Gardaí did attend the scene and engaged with those present,” a statement said.
“In supporting the Covid-19 public health guidelines and regulations, An Garda Síochána has and will continue to adopt, a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent.
“This has seen gardaí engage, educate, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce,” it said.
The office did not say if there were any arrests or fines issued.
“Where gardaí identify potential breaches of the public health regulations a file is prepared for the DPP in each case or a Fixed Payment Notice is issued where appropriate.
“The Covid-19 pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to demonstrate personal and social responsibility to comply with public health guidelines and regulations, in particular essential journeys, in order to continue to save lives.”
Under current Covid-19 regulations a person can be given a fixed charge notice of €500 for organising a prohibited event outside of a home.
The guidelines say places of worship remain open for private prayer and that services should be held online, while up to 10 people can attend a funeral.
In a weekly newsletter two weeks ago Fr Hughes wrote: “We are committing a grave mistake by rejecting our Lord and God Jesus Christ by staying away because Government officials say we must.
“I do not accept and will not accept this demand by people who do not realise the wrong they are doing.
“I have been reported again and the gardaí have issued a fine because I celebrated Mass with people present.”
Fr Hughes also said he will “exercise my constitutional right even though people are complaining” which includes disobeying his bishop and going against his advice.