Christian leaders from the Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal and New churches across the country have called for churches to be allowed open again during Level 5 restrictions for public worship.

Under Level 5 restrictions, religious services (except for weddings and funerals) can only take place online.

Irish Church Together said it is "deeply concerned" that the continued isolation of people is having severe, unintended consequences, particularly with regards to their mental health.

It has warned that as the winter season approaches, domestic violence and self harm will "grow worse" in wider local communities.

In a statement the group described freedom of worship as a sacred, God-given right and one that the Government should respect. 

It said: "If ever there was a time that churches in Ireland needed to be open, it is now. 

Just over two weeks ago, the four Archbishops of the Catholic Church in Ireland requested a meeting with the Taoiseach to allow people return to Mass under Level 3 restrictions. 

In a letter to Micheál Martin, they said they wished to "engage constructively with the civil authorities" to ensure that people can continue to gather for mass and the sacraments.