Concern about numbers not observing Covid-19 restrictions at funerals

Catholic bishop says people not wearing masks and large gatherings is worrying

‘I earnestly appeal to people to find alternative ways to offer condolences at this time of pandemic,’ says bishop. Photograph: iStock

‘I earnestly appeal to people to find alternative ways to offer condolences at this time of pandemic,’ says bishop. Photograph: iStock

 

A Catholic bishops has made a strong appeal to mourners to comply with Covid-19 restrictions at funerals. Bishop of Killaloe Fintan Monahan appealed in particular to people to wear masks at such gatherings and to find other ways of offering condolences as the pandemic continues.

Killaloe takes in most of Co Clare as well as parts of Laois, Limerick, Offaly and Tipperary.

“Priests and people around the Diocese of Killaloe in recent weeks many have expressed their serious health and safety concerns to me regarding the number of people gathering after funeral ceremonies in church and also at burials in cemeteries,” he said.

“People by and large are wearing masks at these open-air gatherings, but some choose not to. I appeal to people to take whatever precautions possible to maximise the safety of all,” he said.

“I earnestly appeal to people to find alternative ways to offer condolences at this time of pandemic, and for the foreseeable future until vaccination has all of us in a better place. Perhaps a prayer, a card, a phone call, a letter, a text, a message on social media, lighting a candle at home or in your local church, would be a safer way to offer consolation with a view to offering personal support in the near future,” he said.

It was “ in the gatherings of genuine and well-meaning people, before and after the funeral Mass, when such occasions, that raise concern, can occur,” he said.

“While being sensitive to the needs of mourners for care and compassion at such a difficult time, many priests have expressed deep concern for the wellbeing of parishioners gathering in such a manner and I share that concern,” Bishop Monahan said.

Two people were arrested and more than 80 fixed penalty notices handed out following a funeral in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim last Thursday, which attracted nearly 300 mourners despite Covid-19 restriction rules.

Following the burial at St Mary’s Cemetery large numbers went to a marquee on a local halting site, with some mourners breaking through a Garda cordon to get there.

The large marquee erected ahead of the funeral was full on Wednesday night. Portaloos were also erected and a UK-registered jeep was parked across the entrance to the estate to block unwanted vehicles entering.

Following the funeral, a large number of mourners who had initially been turned away gathered on foot in a nearby car park and ran through a Garda checkpoint and made their way to the marquee.