Saturday 25 May 2019

Gardaí to be called if sacred Pope tickets fall into the hands of greedy touts

Pope Francis
Pope Francis
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

GREEDY ticket touts will try to exploit the Papal visit by selling on the free tickets for his public appearance, organisers fear.

They are warning that anybody who is asked to hand over money for a ticket to Knock Shrine or the Phoenix Park should immediately contact gardaí.

Special measures have been put in place to ensure every ticket has a unique barcode linking it back to the original owner.

Demand for tickets is expected to be extremely high when they are released on Monday.

An event in Croke Park is already fully subscribed and the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) Pastoral Congress at the RDS has enjoyed record registration numbers.

Already people from 114 countries have indicated they will attend the WMOF between August 12-26.

Fr Tim Bartlett, secretary general of WMOF, said the “eyes of the world will be on Ireland” when Pope Francis comes.

But he warned people need to start planning now if they want to travel to Phoenix Park or Knock.

While there will be 500,000 tickets for the Pontiff’s open air Mass in Dublin, places in Knock will be limited to 45,000.

It is expected demand for the west of Ireland event will far exceed supply, meaning there is a risk that touts may try to take advantage of the situation.

“Every ticket will have a unique barcode. For Knock, every ticket will have to be associated with a particular individual’s name, simply because of the smaller scale and the printed ticket being sent out to them,” Fr Bartlett said.

For Phoenix Park, every ticket will have to be associated with the email address of the group leader. They will be scanned on the way into the grounds.

“Let me make this very clear: If anyone is asked to pay for a ticket for any event that Pope Francis is at while he’s here in Ireland, they should alert the gardaí immediately,” Fr Bartlett said. “Tickets should not be sold to anyone. Nobody should pay for such a ticket and they should also alert us.”

Pope Francis will arrive at Knock Shrine at 9.45am on Sunday, August 26.

He will give the Angelus address on the square in front of the Shrine and leave for a flight back to Dublin an hour later.

Before the 3pm Mass at the Phoenix Park, it is planned that he will drive through the crowds in the Popemobile.

Pilgrims will be allocated an area where they can stand or sit based on when they applied for their ticket.

Those who apply earliest will be nearest to the altar which will be at the exact same spot where Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in 1979.

People are being warned to expect a very long day if they want to see the Pontiff at either event.

In Knock, pilgrims will have to begin their journey in the early hours of the morning. Organisers are still putting together a transport plan.

In Dublin, patrons will have to arrive at a defined entrance to the park, depending on the colour of their ticket.

Long walks will be standard, although arrangements are being put in place to help the elderly and infirm.

Fr Bartlett said “a great deal” of effort is being put into ensuring there are rest stops along the route. “In Ireland we are incredibly good at organising large events,” he said.

“It will be a joyful celebration and we hope a comfortable experience for people – but there is an amount of practical planning and realism required.

“People should be realistic. Please plan your journey well,” he said.

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