AN IRISH PRIEST has been labelled "irresponsible" and "unchristian" for continuing to say mass in his parish with the country on full lockdown.
This is in spite of gardaí informing him he is in breach of public health guidelines, and threatening him with prosecution and possible jail time.
Fr PJ Hughes, the parish priest in Mullahoran, Co. Cavan, said he couldn't close his church because it would be "an insult to the people," according to the Irish Times.
Fr Hughes admitted he'd been warned by two garda members to close his parish, but informed them that he was not going to tell his parishioners to go home.
In an interview with Shannonside radio on Thursday, he said told gardaí that he wasn't aware there was "a law against people practicing their religion," and described Level Five restrictions as akin to "living in a police state".
He also said that as God was the creator of the heavens and earth, "surely he knows how to deal with the virus better than any scientist or HSE CEO."
Public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally branded Fr Hughes' actions "wrong, irresponsible and unchristian," adding that it was a "delusional thought" to think that faith will protect one from contracting Covid-19.
Dr Scally stressed that the priest was putting many elderly and vulnerable people at risk of infection and also risking enormous spread in the community.
Gardaí presented Fr Hughes with his "last warning" the last time they saw him and told him that if he was caught breaking the rules again, a file would be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
He could face a fine of up €2,500 and up to six months in jail.