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Easter church services cancelled due to 1916 centenary parade

‘There is a considerable sense of disappointment and sadness at this’, Church of Ireland says

The Spires of Christ Church and St Audoen’s Church. Easter Sunday services at Christ Church Cathedral and six Church of Ireland parishes in Dublin city centre have had to be cancelled. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Easter Sunday services at Christ Church Cathedral and six Church of Ireland parishes in Dublin city centre have had to be cancelled due to traffic restrictions for the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising.

In a statement the Church said clergy had been informed “there will be no ready access to their churches on that morning and the Garda Síochána have requested that the front gates of Christ Church Cathedral remain locked for the day.”

The State had decided no vehicular traffic would be allowed into the city centre from 6am on Easter Sunday and had confirmed this would be the case, it added.

The decision “was made without consultation with the diocese and there is a considerable sense of disappointment and sadness at this, but the Church’s priority now is to find a way of offering worship on the most significant day in the Christian calendar.”

It means there will be no Easter Sunday services this year at Christ Church Cathedral, St Ann’s on Dawson Street, St Stephen’s on Mount Street, St George and St Thomas on Cathal Brugha Street, St Catherine’s on Thomas Street, St Audoen’s in the Cornmark, St Werburgh’s, and St Michan’s.

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin recently expressed concerns about access to city centre Masses on Easter Sunday. Preparations for the Easter Rising parade would make access to the Pro-Cathedral difficult, he said.

A spokeswoman for the archbishop said on Monday the archdiocese had “been in contact with the parade organisers . . . to try and improve the level of access to the Pro Cathedral. That’s ongoing.”

Currently “it is planned that Easter Sunday Masses will go ahead there as normal,” she said.

Catholic clergy live close to their city centre churches and have ready access to them, which is not the case for the city centre Church of Ireland churches whose clergy live elsewhere.

Church of Ireland clergy, including Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson, met to discuss the situation and decided “ churches which are accessible on the morning of Easter Day elsewhere in the suburbs (outside the cordon) will invite the clergy and congregations from those churches that are not accessible as a result of the restrictions to join them for worship.”

Parishioners may choose to attend services in these churches with their clergy or go to a church near them, they suggested.

Archbishop Jackson, who would normally conduct the service in Christ Church Cathedral on Easter Sunday morning, said “we are making this decision with regret but in recognition of the fact that people for whom we have a duty of care will find it very difficult to gain access to city centre churches on Easter Day.

“I look forward to celebrating Easter with the congregations of Christ Church Cathedral and Sandford parish church on Easter morning. After that I intend to take up the invitation of the Government to attend the ceremony of commemoration at the GPO on what is a very significant day in the history of the State,” he said. He noted however that “people will, understandably, be upset not to be able to worship in their parish churches on Easter Sunday.”