Priest warns road closures will deny right to worshipAugust 17, 2012 - 7:15am
BY DARA BRADLEY
A City priest has expressed concern that Sunday road closures to facilitate the Ironman 70.3 race in Galway next month is denying local Catholics’ right to worship.
Fr Gerry Jennings, parish priest at Salthill, has criticised Galway City Council for facilitating the road closures on Sunday, September 2, which effectively closes off his church to vehicular access.
In a message to parishioners in his Sunday newsletter, Fr Jennings said he is “disturbed” that the local authority can “arbitrarily deny people the traditional right to worship in their local church on a Sunday as they have done for decades”.
He said closing most of the thoroughfare in Salthill to vehicles for up to ten hours “to facilitate a private commercial company to run a race is unfair, wrong and disproportionate”.
In his newsletter, Fr Jennings said Ironman is welcome in Galway “but not to the extent that it totally disrupts daily life”.
Speaking to the Galway City Tribune, Fr Jennings : “If people can’t get to Church, what’s the point in having a service? We need balance and fairness. I believe people are entitled to worship on a Sunday. We would have more people attending Mass than are taking part in this race. It is the same as last year when people were denied their right to worship. I’m not able to hold baptisms or weddings on that day either,” he said.
A spokesperson for Ironman said about six churches in total, including the Claddagh, Salthill, Bushypark, Oughterard and Moycullen, face disruption as a result of the event. He said an ‘action plan’ for each individual church is in place to minimise disruption to mass-goers.
The spokesperson said he was aware that Fr Jennings was unhappy with the disruption, but he stressed that there would be full pedestrian access to the church all day on Sunday.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.