PICS: St James' Hospital staff voice opposition to issue of passes featuring crucifix for Papal visit 2 years ago

PICS: St James' Hospital staff voice opposition to issue of passes featuring crucifix for Papal visit

The permit was issued by the Office of Public Works.

Staff working at St James' Hospital in Dublin have expressed disdain following the allocation of 'essential workers passes' to all staff set to work in the city centre hospital during the Papal visit this weekend.

Issues have arisen over the passes due to the fact that they feature a symbol of religious iconography on them and are required to be worn on the uniforms of employees for the entirety of Pope Francis' visit.

An email was issued to hospital staff stating that, due to citywide restrictions, stating that passes will be needed for those travelling past Garda cordons during the pope’s visit.

A number of restrictions are being put in place for the forthcoming visit – which is expected to bring an extra 600,000 tourists to the city – meaning that worker permits are required due to a far higher footfall.

The issue with such passes was first made public by Senator Lynn Ruane, who was contacted by staff from St James' Hospital, who were "disgusted" that they were required to wear a symbol of Catholicism in their place of work.

Ruane called the move "disrespectful", stating that they "very easily could have created a pass without religious iconography on it," adding that "so many have been hurt by the church".

Images via Senator Lynn Ruane

"The churches symbols shouldn't be a necessity for them to enter their workplace. The respect goes both ways I think," Ruane wrote in a post online.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger also expressed outrage at the pass.

"We are meant to have religious freedoms in this country, wearing religious symbols should be a personal choice," Coppinger posted on Twitter.

"St James Hospital should withdraw passes for essential workers that have religious symbol on it to access work."

JOE reached out the Office of Public Works – who issued the passes – who claim that the passes merely pass "bear to a geographical indicator which signifies which controlled zone the essential worker has access to."

"Essential workers have been issued a pass to enable them to access the controlled zone during the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland this weekend," the statement reads.

"Passes were issued to designated authorising officer and not individuals across all relevant organisations who was responsible for ensuring that the appropriate staff received a pass to show to authorities to enable them to get to their work.

"Passes bear a geographical indicator which signifies which controlled zone the essential worker has access to. The pass in question for Dublin shows an image of the steps and the papal cross which represents the closing event taking place in the Phoenix Park on Sunday 26 August.

"Passes were issued by the Office of Public Works acting on behalf of the Irish Government. The OPW is charged with providing event management and logistical support to State and Government events."

The green and white permit, entitled 'Pope Francis 2019 - Essential Workers Pass', includes the worker’s name, role, access number and date of access. It will be required by any essential staff arriving in controlled zones by car over the weekend.