Priest calls for debate on Good Friday game


A PROMINENT Limerick priest has called for a public debate on how people should approach Good Friday, ahead of a bid by the city’s publicans to open for business on the holy day.

The vintners are due to meet Garda Chief Supt Dave Sheahan today to look for special permission to open because a decisive Magners League rugby match is scheduled to take place on April 2nd.

But rector of the Redemptorists in Limerick, Fr Adrian Egan, has questioned whether the match should go ahead and said there were many people who wanted Good Friday to remain a special day on which restrictions were observed.

Munster fan Fr Egan said he would not attend the match between Munster and Leinster because of the sacred nature of the day. “I suspect that a lot of people are saddened by it – not because of the pubs being shut and the money lost but because something much bigger and more important than any match is being commemorated on that day. It’s a day when we focus on the event of the death of Jesus.

“I would like to see our leaders, like our local politicians, reflect on the issue and not just from the position of the pubs and the money lost. It is the one day that is different and that allows us the opportunity to reflect, so it would be a pity to see it being changed without some serious debate.”

There was concern that if Limerick pubs were allowed to open on Good Friday it could spell the end of its traditional treatment as a sacred holiday.

Fr Egan also wondered whether all the players were necessarily in favour of having to play on that day.

“I know that Donncha O’Callaghan says his prayers before matches and Ronan O’Gara is a regular churchgoer. There is a Scottish international player who won’t play on a Sunday; he would rather forego his place on the team,” he said.

Fr Egan, who regularly attends games at Thomond Park, also spoke of the day’s importance as a means of tapping into personal suffering.

“I remember growing up and Good Friday was always different. There was something emotive about it and it had a sombreness to it that allows you to tap into and reflect on personal suffering, and psychiatrists would argue that it’s important to do that.”

Limerick vintners said they meant no disrespect by opening on Good Friday, and they have joined with local politicians to call for a special licensing exemption, claiming the event could be worth up to €5 million to the local economy.

Owner of South’s bar David Hickey said: “Nobody really wants to open on Good Friday but this is a special sports event.

“It’s really not about the money. It’s about the crack and showcasing Limerick. If the hotels and clubs can open then why can’t we?”

If gardaí agree to deem the match a special event, then the vintners are expected to apply to Limerick District Court for an exemption to the licensing laws.