[I]Additional reporting by Gordon Deegan
The Catholic Church has stressed that any decision as to whether to allow funerals to proceed or to postpone them until after the Covid-19 crisis is down to each individual Bishop.
It came after Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy outlined the reasons why he decided to announce late on Saturday that funerals in the cross-border diocese would be postponed.
The diocese cover parts of Monaghan, Louth, Donegal, Fermanagh and Tyrone and at the weekend Bishop Duffy said:
However, any decision on that or similar restrictions is down at Diocesan level and down to each Bishop, as guided by public health advice.
Speaking on RTÉ’’sprogramme, Bishop Duffy said: "Every Bishop will have to make his own decision and he may feel differently.
"It’’s very different to cancel a funeral and postpone it for maybe three months."
However, he said following the address by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last Friday and similar measures introduced by the British Prime Minister, he had looked at the age profile of priests in the Clogher Diocese and found almost half were over 70 years of age or had an underlying health condition.
"In the circumstances I felt, and in terms of care for people and trying to not have crowds together, [that] this was the wisest thing to do, the responsible thing to do," he said.
Meanwhile, around half of the clergy in a Catholic diocese spanning four counties are ‘cocooning’ as a result of new Government restrictions aimed at combating the Covid 19 pandemic.
Fr Brendan Quinlivan said 34 of the 70 priests in the Diocese of Killaloe are over the age of 70 and and are ‘cocooning’ in line with new Government measures aimed to minimising the spread of the Coronavirus.
Diocesan spokesman, Fr Quinlivan said that a number of those priests are fully retired and a few are in nursing home care.
The diocese stretches from Loop Head in west Clare to Kinnity in Co Offaly and takes in parts of Co Tipperary and Co Limerick.
One of those cocooning is former Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh who said that ‘cocooning’ for formerly busy priests aged over 70 across the country is "traumatic" for them.