Gardaí on patrol near church to collar rebel priest who said mass
30th March 2021
Garda checkpoints were set up in the area surrounding a Cavan church yesterday morning, as parish priest Fr PJ Hughes said Mass in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions.© Provided by Extra.ie
Fr PJ Hughes said Mass in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Mullahoran yesterday, despite previously receiving a €500 fine for saying Mass in breach of public health guidelines.
Gardaí confirmed to the Mail last night that they did speak with those who attempted to attend the service yesterday morning.© Provided by Extra.ie Fr PJ Hughes said Mass in Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Mullahoran yesterday, despite previously receiving a €500 fine for saying Mass in breach of public health guidelines. Pic: Michael Chester
Fr Hughes has come to the attention of local gardaí in recent weeks during lockdown due to regularly snubbing of COVID guidelines.
Fr Hughes told the Mail the gardaí spoke to him before the mass and made a ‘determined effort’ to stop people attending.
‘They condemned the church as a dangerous place, a dangerous place for people to gather. In a way, I felt privileged to be persecuted by the guards because the story today in the gospel is about the Passion of Jesus Christ, how Jesus was crucified, mocked, scourged. I wasn’t scourged or mocked but I was probably insulted and persecuted by the guards,’ he said. ‘It came across today as anti-Catholic and anti- Church. I felt privileged to be persecuted for God today.’© Provided by Extra.ie Our Lady’s of Lourdes Church in Mullahoran. Pic: Michael Chester
The priest first received a visit from the gardaí last November after he said Mass.
He also said gardaí fined him for a Mass three weeks ago when more than 40 people attended.
Under Level 5 restrictions, churches are allowed to remain open for private prayer, but religious services must be held online. The exception is for funerals where up to ten people can attend.© Provided by Extra.ie Fr Hughes has come to the attention of local gardaí in recent weeks during lockdown due to regularly snubbing of COVID guidelines. Pic: Michael Chester
A spokesman for the gardaí said last night: ‘Gardaí are aware of a religious service that took place this morning at Mullahoran at 10am. Gardaí did attend the scene and engaged with those present.’
He added that where gardaí identify potential breaches of the public health regulations, a file is prepared for the DPP or a Fixed Payment Notice is issued.