Sunday 21 April 2024

Delight as Priest who blesses planes at Dublin Airport is asked to continue tradition

Dr Des Doyle at the annual blessing of the planes at Dublin Airport in 2016. Pic: Dublin Airport 

The Catholic priest who blesses the aeroplanes at Dublin Airport has spoken of his delight at being asked by the DAA to continue the tradition.

Fr Des Doyle of the Dublin Airport Church, Our Lady Queen of Heaven, has been going blessing the planes at Christmas for 16 years – continuing a ritual which has lasted for 75 years.

However, this was thrown into doubt earlier this month after the airport’s operator, the DAA, said it had been forced to review the practice due to new security protocols.

It said at the time: ‘Due to recent changes to security protocols, airside access is now restricted to airport operations only. For this reason, non-operational activities can no longer be facilitated airside. We are currently working on a new approach to facilitating the traditional Christmas blessing of the planes at Dublin Airport.’

However, Fr Doyle told The Irish Catholic he has now been asked by the DAA if he can continue the practice.

He said: ‘I’m delighted. It chimes perfectly with the supportive relationship between the DAA and the chaplaincy. That is the way it has been, so the original announcement was kind of out of keeping with that, I don’t know where it came from.’

He continued: ‘They said they would be delighted if I would continue it [blessing planes airside], from their point of view anyway – and they’re just facilitating the airlines who want it.’ He added that he keeps up-to-date with relevant training.’

‘Everybody who goes airside, the side where the planes are, they have to have a good reason for going, they have to be vetted and have airside training,’ he said.

The blessing of the planes started with Aer Lingus in 1947 when the airline had just seven aircraft.

As Christmas Day was the only day on which planes did not fly out of Dublin Airport, that was the occasion on which the chaplain was asked to bless the aircraft.

The Irish Daily Mail has contacted the Daa for comment. 

Meanwhile, social media giant Facebook has restricted two of The Irish Catholic’s posts. 

It said the posts were suspected of breaching ‘hate speech’ and ‘violence and incitement’ community standards respectively.

The newspaper said the first post linking an article with the headline, ‘Priest will continue blessing planes despite airport ban’, which was published on April 11, was flagged for potentially going against their standards for violence and incitement.

The second post, highlighting the Catholic Education Partnership’s (CEP) stance on defending the integrity of faith-based programmes in Catholic schools, had the headline, ‘Catholic schools staunch on religious cert requirements as INTO put on pressure’.

It was also published on April 11 and was flagged as potentially contravening ‘hate speech’ standards.

Facebook said it defined hate speech as ‘language that attacks people based on their: race, ethnicity, national origin or caste; religious affiliation; sexual orientation; sex, gender or gender identity; serious disabilities or diseases’.

The newspaper said it was unclear what standard it had breached, and had requested a review of the decision. 

It said it had not yet received a response.