Rising events must not close churches, says John Bruton

‘Easter Sunday is the most important day of the Christian year’

John Bruton: making representations to Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner. Photograph: David Sleator

John Bruton: making representations to Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner. Photograph: David Sleator

 

Religious leaders and a former taoiseach have called for access to religious services to be prioritised over 1916 centenary commemorations in Dublin on Easter Sunday .

No vehicular traffic is being allowed into the city centre from 6am on Easter Sunday. This has meant the Church of Ireland has had to cancel Easter Sunday services at seven churches in the city centre, including at Christ Church Cathedral. The Garda has also requested that the front gates of Christ Church remain locked for the day.

Easter Sunday masses will go ahead at Catholic churches in the city centre, including the Pro Cathedral, a decision made easier as the relevant Catholic clergy live beside those churches, unlike their Church of Ireland counterparts. City-centre Catholic clergy have also expressed concern about churchgoers’ access to Easter masses.

Former Fine Gael taoiseach John Bruton said he had written to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerland and Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan on the matter.

“I do feel that, as Easter Sunday is the most important day of the Christian year, access to Christian services should be prioritised over other events. I have made representations to this effect to both the commissioner and the Minister,” he said.

Robin Bury, of the non-denominational Reform group, has written to Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys about the closure of city-centre Church of Ireland churches. He said it may be “discrimination, bearing in mind the Roman Catholic churches in inner-city Dublin will be open for worship”.

He called for arrangements to be made “to allow the Church of Ireland parishioners worship in their own churches on the main day in the Church of Ireland calendar”.

He also found it “puzzling, the date chosen [to celebrate] is March 27th, Easter Day, rather than April 24th, the date the Rising started.”

Writing to the same Minister, Dr Gerald Morgan of Trinity College Dublin said it was “essential that Catholics and Protestants are united on this important occasion for us all”. But he found it “more than disappointing to think that members of the Church of Ireland will be unable to attend” city-centre services on Easter Sunday.