Covid restrictions on public worship


Sir, – It is, of course, entirely valid for Maria Steen to question whether the Government restrictions on public worship in these times of pandemic are necessary or proportionate (“Pandemic too good an opportunity for secularists to pass up”, Opinion & Analysis, January 2nd). It is, however, wrong of her to compare these restrictions to the persecution of Catholics in Ireland in the Tudor period and under the later penal laws. No religion is outlawed in Ireland today; clergy have not been banished from the island on pain of death; there are no laws preventing adherents of any religion or none from practicing law or holding public office; and no property or other rights have been curtailed on the grounds of religious affiliation. Discourse in the media and elsewhere on the Government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic needs to be based on facts – on “the science”, if you will – and not on emotional appeals to spurious historical parallels. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – Linking frustrated modern Mass-goers to the history of early religious martyrs, Maria Steen says that, “willingness to face torture and death is heroism of a sort we rarely see in this country nowadays”.

It shouldn’t need pointing out that many thousands of healthcare workers have risked their lives on a daily basis this year in dealing with the Covid pandemic. The tragic death of one such hero, Mariter Tarugo, is detailed elsewhere in the newspaper (“Tributes paid to healthcare worker”, News, January 2nd).

The defence of civil liberties, like religious observance, is a noble pursuit, but it surely ends when it puts the lives of others at risk. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.

A chara, – The most dangerous sentiment expressed in Maria Steen’s article is, “The Government might argue – as we were told earlier this year – that lockdowns are necessary to ensure adequate hospital capacity for treating people with Covid-19. But at no time this year have the hospitals been overwhelmed.”

These two sentences are offered as if they are some form of logical checkmate. The fact that hospitals have not been overwhelmed does not negate efforts to prevent them from becoming overwhelmed. We have been postponing non-essential medical treatments and interventions to create hospital capacity. – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.