Cross-border Catholics may attend Masses in NI parishes, but not in Republic

Over half Clogher parishes in Northern Ireland, with two in both jurisdictions

Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy said in some  parishes in his cross-border diocese Mass is available in one part while not in the other.

Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy said in some parishes in his cross-border diocese Mass is available in one part while not in the other.

 

The Catholic Bishop of a cross-border diocese has spoken of frustrations felt by local people who can attend Mass in parishes within Northern Ireland but may not do so in the Republic.

Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy said he was “very aware of the fear, frustration and inconvenience that people are experiencing. I am especially conscious of the loss felt by so many on the southern side of the border at not being able to celebrate public Mass together. In fact, in some of our parishes Mass is available in one part while not in the other.”

Clogher includes all of Monaghan, most of Fermanagh and parts of Tyrone, Donegal, Louth, and Cavan. It has a Catholic population of 88,000, across 37 parishes, of which 20 are in the Republic, with 15 in Northern Ireland while two, Clones and Roslea, are divided by the border.

Bishop Duffy said “the Eucharist is an essential part of the spiritual nourishment of Catholics and I look forward to the day when we can all celebrate it again”.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Ireland’s four Catholic Archbishops in a letter to Taoiseach Micheál Martin last week requesting a meeting to discuss their concern at restrictions in the Republic on public celebrations of the Mass and other liturgies under Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions. No such restrictions currently apply to public religious services in Northern Ireland.

In their letter to the Taoiseach, Catholic Primate and Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary, and Archbishop of Cashel Kieran O’Reilly said they wished “to ensure that our people have continued access to the support of Mass and the Sacraments and essential spiritual nourishment for these challenging times.”

Bishop Duffy said the introduction of further restrictions across the island of Ireland was “a very trying time for people, particularly after so many have made such tremendous efforts to comply with regulations and to provide for the common good and the public health of all.”

He called on people “to comply with public health and hygiene requirements and to look out for the needs of others”.

“So many are doing that on the frontline and in our schools and public services. In fighting this contagious virus, all of us need to do the same in whatever walk of life we are in.”