Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed that a controversial ban on public worship will be lifted on May 10, meaning Catholics will be free to attend Mass without fear of criminalisation.
Worshippers in the Irish Republic have been forbidden to attend Mass for 27 of the last 30 weeks, the Government moving recently to make it a criminal offence with priests and Mass-goers facing up to six months in prison.
Archbishop Eamon Martin has described the penal provisions attached to Mass as both “draconian” and “provocative”.
In an address to the nation tonight (Thursday) Mr Martin confirmed that this ban will continue for almost another two weeks, but that from May 10 pubic worship will be permitted.
However, numbers will be restricted to just 50 worshippers irrespective of whether people have been vaccinated or not and despite the size of the church.
Up to 50 people will also be able to gather for funerals and wedding ceremonies, however wedding receptions will be restricted to just six people or 15 people if the reception takes place outdoors.
The Irish Government has imposed the most draconian restrictions on religious services in Europe and currently remains the only jurisdiction in the European Union (EU) where a ban on people attending ceremonies exists.
North of the border, public worship has been permitted since March 26.
Since last November, Catholic businessman Declan Ganley has been challenging the constitutionality of the ban in the courts. The case has been repeatedly adjourned, with the latest High Court ruling on Aril 17 postponing the case until May 18.