Exemption reflects 'changing society'

 

THE ADMINISTRATOR of Limerick’s Catholic diocese has said the decision to allow bars in the city to open on Good Friday was “an opportunity for Christians to make their own decision . . . in accordance with their conscience”.

Fr Tony Mullins, who was appointed diocesan administrator following the resignation of Bishop Donal Murray last December, said the granting of the exemption was “a further reflection of a changing society, where religious beliefs and the practice of one’s faith is becoming more a matter for the individual”.

He said “the civil authorities have made their decision, in good faith, in accordance with the facts laid before them in the context of civil law and society; I respect this decision”.

However, “for the many people whose faith is important to them the challenge in this new emerging Ireland is for Catholics to give even stronger witness to their faith and belief”.

Fr Mullins said anyone visiting for the match was welcome “to join with our local communities for the Good Friday liturgies”.

Seán Lally, general manager of the Strand Hotel, said it was “a huge positive PR story for Limerick – there will be 26,000 people at the match, 20,000 of them will be Munster supporters, 6,000 will be from Leinster and this is traditionally one of the biggest games of the year in Limerick . . . Having to close pubs and hotels here during a rugby match would be like having pubs closed in Galway during the races or in Cork during the jazz festival,” he said.

However, campaigner and former GAA president Dr Mick Loftus said the judgment was disappointing “in the light of the huge alcohol problem which this country is battling”.