Sunday Masses to go ahead despite World Cup


Dublin Bus services may be grinding to a halt, and businesses shutting-up shop but one institution will remain open on Sunday afternoon - the Church.

And that's just as well because Ireland will need all the prayers it can get if it's going to beat Spain and make it through the World Cup quarter finals.

Father Damien MacNiece of the Dublin Catholic Diocese press office said the noon and 12.30 p.m. Masses would go ahead as scheduled in the vast majority of parishes despite a clash with the big game.

He said any change in Mass times would have to have been notified to parishioners last Sunday to allow them make alternative arrangements.

Ireland only qualified for the second round of the World Cup on Tuesday after defeating Saudi Arabia in its final group game.

"There may be very delicate negotiations between priests as to who will say Mass. But people will turn up expecting Mass so it will have to be said," he said.

While attendances may be down at noon-time ceremonies, he noted: "There are a lot of people who would prefer not to be at home, and would prefer to be somewhere calm and quiet during the afternoon, or who maybe don't have an interest in football."

Notwithstanding that, he said: "It would be a brave priest who gives a 40-minute homily on Sunday."

Whatever the outcome of the game, the business community is bracing itself for another splurge in spending this weekend.

The Central Bank revealed yesterday that an extra €33.5 million of cash was circulating in the economy at close of business on Thursday compared to at the end of May, before the World Cup began. In the same period last year, cash-flow fell by €18 million.

Central Bank spokesman Mr Neil Whoriskey said one couldn't draw definitive conclusions from the rise. However, he said, World Cup-related spending was undoubtedly a factor.

"This jump would not be of the same nature that we'd see around Christmas time but €33.5 million in two weeks is significant enough," he said.

The Dublin Chamber of Commerce has estimated that Ireland's World Cup heroics has yielded Dublin city alone at least €100 million.

Chamber spokesman Mr Jerry Minihan said the figure was based on estimated business and tourism benefits up to the end of the month. "We're talking not just about increased spending in pubs and restaurants but increased shopping everywhere."

He added Ireland, historically, saw an increase in overseas holidays and inward tourism after successful World Cup campaigns. "What the Irish team and fans do for the marketing of Ireland just can't be bought."

A spokeswoman for the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland concurred with this view. "There is a general feel-good factor which is being helped by the World Cup, and that is shown in increased consumer confidence, which is only good for business. The longer we stay in the World Cup the better it will be."

A number of businesses have indicated they will close on Sunday afternoon, and may not re-open until after 3 p.m. if the match ends up in extra time or a penalty shoot-out.

Dublin Bus said it would operate a reduced service for the duration of the game. A spokesman for the company said: "We would invite anyone who wants to travel when the match is on to ring our customer service bureau (01-873 4222) which will be open from 9 a.m."

Ireland remains the underdog with most bookmakers quoting the team at 5-1 to beat Spain - kick-off is at 12.30 p.m.