A number of bishops have given the go-ahead for Communions and Confirmations to take place from next month despite current public health guidance saying ceremonies should not take place at this time.

Under current Covid-19 guidelines, places of worship are open for religious services for up to 50 people but ceremonies, such as communions and confirmations, should not take place.

Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan said that sacraments for children will get under way from mid-August.

In a statement, he said that after seeing large crowds gathering at "all kinds of venues" lately, he believed that there was "no valid reason for the further postponement of the sacraments for our children".

Yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he accepted that the restrictions around holding Communions and Confirmations were "very difficult". However, he warned against any "unilateral breaching of regulations".

The Covid-19 regulations state: "It is advised that religious ceremonies such as Baptisms, First Holy Communions and Confirmations should not take place at this time. Further advice will follow on resumption of these ceremonies when it is safe to do so.

"From Thursday 5 August, Baptism services may proceed. However, they must follow all protective measures and social gatherings afterwards should be avoided."

The comments from the Taoiseach followed a circular being issued by Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran to parish priests in his diocese, telling them that they can proceed with Communions and Confirmations in the coming weeks.

Mr Martin said that the sole motivation behind restrictions was to "protect lives".

"I don't approve of any unilateral breaching of regulations," he said.

In a statement today, Bishop Cullinan said: "The communication from the Government and from NPHET regarding the sacraments leaves a great deal to be desired. We are all conscious of the need to remain vigilant.

"Parishes have been exemplary in taking the health guidelines seriously and will continue to do so, but for any local parish community and their priest who wish to avail of these sacraments, they must be allowed to do so.

"Therefore in line with the four archbishops letter to the Government this week access to these sacraments for our children will go ahead from mid-August."

Meanwhile, Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy said that Communions and Confirmations may take place in Republic of Ireland parishes on or after 20 August.

"The appropriate protocols presently in place in our churches will be maintained, and families are reminded of the need for adherence to public health guidance in relation to social interactions following the church celebration," Bishop Duffy said.

"As with the practice last year, these liturgies will take place with small groups of children where attendance is restricted to the child, the parents/guardians and sponsor.

"The celebration of First Holy Communion and Confirmation has been completed already in the parishes situated in the northern part of our diocese, with full adherence to public health protocols."

The Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan has informed priests in his diocese that confirmations can go ahead.

St Mary's Parish in Navan have scheduled a full day of confirmations to take place across St Mary's and St Oliver's Church in the parish on 18 August between 10:30am and 7pm.

A parish statement said, "this announcement adds to the joyful occasions planned for our parish at that time". It encouraged parents and guardians to alert their child's sponsor to make sure they are available.