A Galway City parish priest has expressed concern that forthcoming Sunday Road closures in Galway City to facilitate the Ironman race in the city next month is denying local Catholics their right to Sunday worship.
Fr Gerry Jennings, parish priest of Salthill parish, criticised Galway city Council for facilitating the road closures on Sunday September 2, that he says effectively closes off his church to vehicular access.
In a message to his 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 [and which is] is unfair, wrong and disproportionate.”
He concluded his newsletter comments by saying that the Ironman competition is welcome in Galway City, “but not to the extent that it totally disrupts daily life.”
Speaking to Galway Bay FM later in the week Fr Jennings went further.
He said, “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.”
A spokesperson for the Ironman accepted that about six churches in Galway City, including those in Claddagh, Salthill, Busypark, Oughterard and Moycullen, face disruption as a result of the event.
He said that an action plan for each individual church is in place to minimise disruption to mass-goers.
The spokesperson added that while he was aware of Fr Jennings views that there still would be full pedestrian access to the church on Sunday September 2.