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Minister for Tourism hopes Pope will visit Knock

By Sean Ryan - 20 November, 2015

Nationwide special on the Shrine in Knock - Monday 22nd June, 7.00pm, RTÉ OneThe Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, has said that he hopes that Pope Francis will visit Knock Shrine if he visits Ireland in 2018.

In October it was announced that Dublin will host the ‘World Meeting of Families’ in three years’ time, and it has been speculated that that Pope Francis may use this as an opportunity to visit Ireland.

While details of the major religious gathering have yet to be worked out, it is likely take place at the RDS, a venue which was also used for the International Eucharistic Congress in 2012.

If Pope Francis does visit Ireland, Mass in the Phoenix Park is speculated as a likely finale to the occasion of the World Meeting of Families, as nowhere else could accommodate expected numbers.

There is also speculation that the Pontiff may also visit Northern Ireland, possibly Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, and that he may also visit the West of Ireland.

Speaking at last week’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, Minister Ring who is a TD for Mayo said, “I hope the Pope sees fit to come to Knock and relaunch Knock Shrine. If he comes to Ireland I hope he comes to Knock too.”

The comments were made during his presentation to Council members on tourism in the county and what he hopes they can achieve.

Minister Ring explained that 4,500 people were employed in the tourism sector in Mayo, and he stressed the significant potential of the Wild Atlantic Way, which he said “has put the west of Ireland and Mayo on the map”.

He added that Knock plays a huge role in tourism in the West of Ireland.

He recalled the visit in August of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, who flew into Knock with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, and over 170 passengers, as part of the first diocesan pilgrimage from the Archdiocese of New York to Knock.

Speaking at the Mayo County Council meeting, Fianna Fáil councillor and election candidate, Lisa Chambers claimed that Knock Airport was being overlooked by the present Government compared to the support given to Shannon Airport.

She said that if pilgrimage tourism was to improve in the West of Ireland more supports would have to be given to Knock Airport.

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