LEO VARADKAR has confirmed that Communions and Confirmations will not go ahead due to the threat of the Delta Covid-19 variant.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin yesterday announced that the panned 5 July reopening of indoor dining would be pushed back to an as-yet unconfirmed date, with only the fully vaccinated and immune allowed to dine indoors once that date has been set.
Some restrictions were eased, with up to 50 people now allowed to attend a wedding, but Tánaiste Leo Varadkar later said that other church services will not be allowed to go ahead.
When questioned at a press conference yesterday, Mr Varadkar was asked whether Communions and Confirmations will be given permission to go ahead, to which the Tánaiste replied that they were "off, unfortunately".
His brief announcement comes following a letter to Catholic bishops from the Health Service Executive (HSE) which warned that Communions and Confirmations should be deferred to September due to the spread of Covid-19.
In a letter to the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, HSE Chiefs suggested that due to the threat of a rise in cases and the Delta variant, Communions and Confirmations should not go ahead.
Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly expressed his "disappointment", but stressed that "serious consideration must be given to this recommendation," in a message to his parishes.
He also advised parents to avoid throwing big parties to celebrate the event.
The HSE letter said: "We have had a number of queries in relation to the holding of First Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies over the summer period in the Mid-West region.
"I wish to advise that it is our view that these services should be deferred until this September due to a number of factors, including: the current high rate of Covid-19 infection in the Mid-West region, and by September most of those eligible should be fully vaccinated against Covid."