Gardai called to remove man from priest's chair
GARDAI were called to a church after a man refused to vacate the priest's seat as Mass was about to start.
The incident happened at the evening service at St Peter and Paul's Church on Dublin Road in Portlaoise on Wednesday.
It is understood a man went to the church early and then sat on the priest's chair on the altar.
When the cleric came out to say Mass, the man refused to budge, insisting: "This is my chair."
Despite repeated requests, the individual stayed put until gardai arrived.
He was eventually removed from the church and the service was able to proceed.
Fr Paddy Byrne CC said it was a "harmless incident".
"There was a guy and he was sitting in the chair. He simply would not move," said Fr Byrne, who was not the presiding priest.
He said they "had to get gardai to escort him off the chair" as the Mass was about the start.
"It was pure harmless," he added.
A garda spokesman confirmed that officers attended St Peter and Paul's Church at 7.30pm on Wednesday and detained a 21-year-old man.
"He was arrested and brought to Portlaoise garda station," said the spokesman.
The man was directed under Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, under which it is an offence not to comply with a direction given by a garda.
It is understood that the man will appear in court in connection with the charge.
One local businessman said: "The priest was at him for a few minutes to go but he wouldn't go and eventually he called the gardai.
"It (the Mass) was delayed for about half an hour. It's the talk of the town at the moment."