Firm defends washing Papal Cross during hosepipe ban saying it's 'water under the bridge'

The contractors who used tap water to clean the Papal Cross during the hosepipe ban have defended their actions.

The ban came into effect at midnight, July 2, and prohibits the use of water drawn through a hosepipe.

A clip, taken by Niamh Bennett, shows a worker washing the structure from a cherry-picker.

NHC Construction, a Dublin-based general contractor, has tried to laugh off the criticism, joking that they didn't use "holy water".

A statement from the company said it was proud to have cleaned the cross ahead of the visit of Pope Francis.

It believes the fallout is now "water under the bridge".

Company spokesman, Niall Healy, said: “Pope Francis' arrival in Ireland is a historic national event, and we're proud to have undertaken the work to make sure iconic monuments like the Papal Cross are spick and span for the visit.

"The fallout is certainly water under the bridge for us. It's not like we cleaned it with holy water!”

The cleaning was undertaken as part of preparations for Pope Francis' two-day visit to Ireland on August 25 and 26.

A spokesperson for the Office of Public Works (OPW) said yesterday the water used to wash the cross, which has not been cleaned in four years, was drawn a week before the hosepipe ban was put in place.

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