Mayor joins Good Friday drink row

THEY say rugby is more important than religion in Limerick.

The truth of that statement could well be settled once and for all on Good Friday.

Adding his voice to the ongoing row surrounding the controversial decision to schedule Munster’s much-anticipated clash with Leinster on Good Friday, the Mayor of Limerick last night moved to have the city’s pubs opened to accommodate fans attending the game.

Mayor Kevin Kiely confirmed last night that he has written to the senior member of the judiciary at Limerick District Court, Judge Tom O’Donnell, asking him to accede to an application by the city’s vintners to open for the match on one of the holiest days in the Catholic Church calendar.

The vintners in the city will apply next Monday at the city’s district court for a special exemption to allow them to open between 7pm and midnight.

In his letter Mr Kiely points out that it is his understanding “from reading the law” that it is within Judge O’Donnell’s jurisdiction to grant the order allowing pubs to open on Good Friday providing there are no objections. “I also understand that an application will be made to the court from the Vintners’ Association for such a special exemption. I support the granting of this special exemption order as mayor, as this is a very special event.”

Confirming he had sent the letter to Judge O’Donnell, Mr Kiely went on to say that pubs in the city add greatly to the atmosphere on big rugby occasions and that their closure on Good Friday would mean that atmosphere would be greatly diminished.

“That atmosphere will be totallydiminished if we cannot get this pub exemption for the Good Friday game and this game comes within the category of a special event and I think it is within the gift of the judge to grant this order.”

But Fr Noel Kirwan, parish priest at the Limerick Diocesan Pastoral Centre, said opening the pubs was more about lining publicans’ pockets than adding to the sports event.

“The question here is what is important; what do we hold dear? Certainly myself, I don’t need a drink to watch rugby. Good Friday is sacred to me and it is a day of fast for Catholics.

“Opening the pubs on Good Friday is nothing to do with rugby. It’s another opportunity for people to make money. Would we support pubs if they were open on Christmas Day? Surely there can be days in the year that we hold dear,” Fr Kirwan said.

Rugby games at Thomond Park involving Munster are usually worth in excess of €10 million to the city.

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