herald

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Gardai set to crack down on greedy ticket touts if they exploit Pope visit

Brenda Drumm, communications manager, World Meeting of Families, with Fr Timothy Bartlett
Brenda Drumm, communications manager, World Meeting of Families, with Fr Timothy Bartlett

Gardai may get involved if greedy ticket touts try to exploit the papal visit by selling tickets for his public appearances.

Organisers are requesting that anyone who is asked to hand over money for a ticket to Knock Shrine or the Phoenix Park should immediately contact gardai.

Special measures have been put in place to ensure every ticket has a unique barcode linking it back to the original owner.

Demand for tickets is expected to be extremely high when they are released on Monday.

An event in Croke Park is already fully subscribed and the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) Pastoral Congress at the RDS has enjoyed record registration numbers. Already people from 114 countries have indicated they will attend the WMOF between August 21-26.

Fr Tim Bartlett, secretary general of WMOF, said the "eyes of the world will be on Ireland" when Pope Francis arrives.

Demand

But he warned people need to start planning if they want to travel to Phoenix Park or Knock. While there will be 500,000 tickets for the Pontiff's open-air Mass in Dublin, places in Knock will be limited to 45,000.

It is expected demand for the west of Ireland event will far exceed supply, meaning there is a risk that touts may try to take advantage of the situation.

"Every ticket will have a unique barcode. For Knock, every ticket will have to be associated with a particular individual's name, simply because of the smaller scale and the printed ticket being sent out to them," Fr Bartlett said.

Every ticket for the Park will have to be associated with the email address of the group leader. They will be scanned on the way into the grounds.

"Let me make this very clear: if anyone is asked to pay for a ticket for any event that Pope Francis is at while he's here in Ireland they should alert the gardai immediately," Fr Bartlett said. "Tickets for this event should not be sold to anyone. Nobody should pay for such a ticket and they should alert us."

Before the Mass in the Phoenix Park it is planned the Pope will be driven through the crowds in the Popemobile.

Pilgrims will be allocated an area where they can stand or sit, based on when they applied for their ticket. Those who apply earliest will be nearest to the altar which will be at the same spot where Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in 1979.

People are being warned to expect a very long day if they want to see the Pontiff at either event. In Dublin, patrons will have to arrive at a defined entrance to the park, depending on the colour of their ticket.

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