Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has condemned "petty and mean-spirited" protesters for block booking free tickets, which will not be used, for Pope Francis' events during his visit to Ireland this summer.

A social media campaign encouraging people to book large numbers of free tickets to events, such as the Pope's mass in the Phoenix Park, and not use them has gained traction in recent days. 

Concerns over the 'Say Nope to the Pope' campaign were raised this afternoon in the Dáil by the Fianna Fáil Leader Mícheál Martin. 

He said the Pope's visit is an important opportunity for our society to show that it respects the faith and sincerity of people.

Mr Martin added: "I hope reports of people trying to get hold of hundreds of tickets in order to block people from going to the main events are untrue. If such actions did occur, they would be petty, intolerant and certainly the opposite of progressive." 

Responding the Taoiseach said: "I know that Deputy Martin mentioned the fact that some people have been applying for tickets that they don't intend to use as some sort of protest. I want to say that I firmly believe that such actions if they are happening are wrong and petty and mean spirited." 

He added: "Protest is legitimate. Protest is okay but denying other people the opportunity to attend a mass or attend an event is not a legitimate protest and is very unfair and really should be condemned." 

Earlier, Labour TD Joan Burton asked for details of the budget that has been allocated for the reinstatement of Phoenix Park after 600,000 people visit to see the Pope.

Mr Varadkar said: "We don't have a cost or a budget yet either for the security or the reinstatement of the Park but we would estimate it will be in the same ball park as Queen Elizabeth's visit so probably more than €10m, less than €20m but that is just a guesstimate at this stage." 

The matter was also raised by a number of senators in the Seanad this morning.