IRELAND'S Health Service Executive (HSE) has warned the Catholic Church not to hold First Communions or Confirmations in Midwest counties this summer.
In a letter to to the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Kieran O’Reilly, HSE chiefs suggested that the ceremonies be deferred to September instead.
The warning comes following a concerning rise in Delta variant cases across the country, which is threatening to delay Ireland's reopening plan.
Thousands of children and parents saw their ceremonies cancelled back in May, with most schools and parishes rescheduling them for July, but now it appears that they might have to wait even longer, particularly anyone in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary.
In response to HSE's letter, Archbishop 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."