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Sinead Ryan: Sorry Terry Prone, you're wrong. The Good Friday drinking ban is just ludicrous in this day and age

Terry Prone's well-argued piece yesterday on the appalling vista of Good Friday pub openings in Limerick can be added to the other opinion pieces on the matter in various media.

Apart from the publicans, it seems absolutely nobody else thinks it's a good idea. Well, excuse me Terry (and others) -- but does that mean the canny publicans have got it wrong for once and they're going to find themselves polishing glasses and sweeping the floor next Friday because nobody will turn up to be served? Wow -- that'll be interesting.

There are half a million people in Ireland who are not Catholics according to the last census.


Of those that are, a very many of them are not fully practising -- that is, holding onto each tenet dearly and conscientiously. They are instead, using contraceptives, missing the odd Mass and possibly planning to have a glass of wine with dinner next Friday night.

They are bad Catholics, surely? Or maybe just practical, living-in-the-21st-century-ones. A la carte, if you will. I am supremely indifferent about what they should or shouldn't do with their lives if they are consenting adults making decisions and not hurting anyone else.

Some of them will be at a rubgy match in Limerick. They may want to have a pint while enjoying the game.

Is Terry seriously suggesting that the others, who aren't fortunate enough to have a match ticket, be treated like children and banned from doing the same in a pub showing the game because of a law which, incidentally, is entirely man-made?

If we've learned anything from the appalling fallout of the Murphy and Ryan reports (and really, I don't want to link the two issues), it's that our traditional Church values have been stood on their head. It has been proven to us in spades that we simply cannot trust our Church leaders with anything any more. So to bow at the knee over a decision which, as grown-ups, we can make all by ourselves, seems ludicrous.

Catholicism is a religion of conscience. Those that adhere to it are asked to make decisions in life according to a set of guidelines, interpreted by Church leaders. Some do, some don't. Some try and fail, some are pious. The point is that Catholics have choices.

So presumably every single Catholic at that match next Friday will not only forego alcohol but will do a Stations of the Cross at 3pm. Yes, that's sarcasm, and it's not having a go, but the truth is that if they really, truly believe in their faith, they will observe these rules, which the Church has a complete right to enforce.

There is nothing stopping any good Catholic from attending Church services and observing a black fast. They have been doing so for centuries and nobody is going to be shoving a pint of Guinness down their throats. But forcing the entire country to follow suit smacks of the imperialism we have come to expect from other, far less tolerant religions where breaking the rules can lead to you losing a limb or being locked up.

Terry speaks of other countries where religion is revered. Yes, and so it should be -- among those that observe it. The distinction between living in an open, tolerant society and a rigid, right-wing country, is whether the majority view is being foisted on the rest of society.


Proponents of the Good Friday closing probably also like hearing the Angelus bonged out every evening before the news. I don't.

However, I absolutely and fundamentally agree with Terry's point that a bit of quiet time for reflection provides both solace and peace.

I would just prefer that those 60 seconds be reflected with some music by Mozart, or the day off by a bank holiday where I may do as I please.

Good Friday is not about curbing drink. It is about a section of society observing a religious day. Let them. And let the rest of us do as we please.