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Gardai fined €500 a priest who performed mass in violation of COVID guidelines

CAVAN: A Cavan priest has been fined €500 for violating COVID-19 guidelines. Garda convicted Fr PJ Hughes, the parish priest for Mullahoran and Loughduff, for performing Mass with the participation of many people.

Fr Hughes had conducted prayer services without following the COVID-19 rules on several occasions. Despite numerous warnings against this, the priest continued the Mass and prayer services. He refused to comply with the government’s restrictions on religious services. However, the priest has now been fined €500 by the gardai.

“We are committing a grave mistake by rejecting our Lord and God Jesus Christ by staying away because Government officials say we must,” Fr Hughes wrote in the parish’s weekly newsletter.

“I do not accept and will not accept this demand by people who do not realise the wrong they are doing. I have been reported again and the gardaí have issued a fine because I celebrated mass with people present,” Fr Hughes said. The priest added that he would exercise his constitutional right even if people complained.

According to COVID guidelines, a fine of €500 must be paid for organizing a prohibited event outside the home. Level 5 restrictions state that religious rites and prayers are allowed online only and that no more than ten people can attend a funeral.

Fr Hughes argues that people have the constitutional right to assemble for prayer. He added that restrictions have “turned people against each other”.

Last November, a local Sergeant visited the Cavan priest. Fr Hughes was told that if he did not close his Church, he would face a €2,500 fine and up to six months in jail. However, Fr Hughes refused to close the church and called on the officials to apologize for hurting the Catholic people in the country.

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