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Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd at the end of a papal Mass

Irish travelers descend on Birmingham for Pope’s visit

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Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd at the end of a papal Mass

Thousands of Irish travelers may descend on Birmingham in hopes of being blessed by the pope on his visit there on September 19th a local politician there has warned.

Already 16 families have moved close to Cofton Park where Pope Benedict XVI's open-air mass will be held.
Local councilor Martin Mullaney said the Donegal travelers told him they had made their way from Ireland and had no idea the mass was ticket only.

Pilgrim passes have been allocated to parish priests who will distribute them to parishioners at a cost of €30 each.

Councilor Mullaney said: "About 16 families moved on to one of our historic parks  so I went along to see them.

“Our fear now is that there is a huge community of Irish Travelers on their way so we want to be proactive and make it clear that there are no spaces available.

"I asked them what they were doing in Birmingham and what they said to me was, 'We've come here to see the Pope because we want to get his blessing at the Mass in Birmingham'.

"When I asked them if they had pilgrim passes, the response was, 'What passes?'

"The pilgrim passes have all already been allocated to parish priests, and there will be no admission to the Mass without a pass."
The Travelers have been told to leave the field but they simply relocated in a park across the road.

A seven-day eviction notice has now been served on the families who,authorities say will not be allowed into the park.

A Birmingham City Council spokeswoman said: "The arrival of pilgrims will be by coach only and timed according to an agreed programme to ensure ease of access and departure.

"Anybody without a pass will not be allowed inside the park."

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