Belfast Telegraph

Skoda car to play role of 'Popemobile' during trip

By Jane Last

Pope Francis will be driven around in a Skoda car while he is in Ireland.

Irish businesswoman Norah Casey - who is helping to raise €21m (£18.7m) to fund the World Meeting of Families event in Dublin later this month - confirmed the pontiff would be travelling in the vehicle.

Appearing as a panellist on RTE Radio One's Marian show yesterday, Ms Casey said the car brand was providing vehicles for the World Meeting of Families.

"He's driving a Skoda while he's in Ireland. Travelling in it," she said.

Host Brendan O'Connor - who was standing in for Marian Finucane - said the fact the Pope would be seen travelling in a Skoda would "probably be invaluable to them".

The former Czech brand was incorporated into the Volkswagen group two decades ago, and has become a 'mid-market' brand favoured by Irish families.

It is not known which type of Skoda model the pontiff would be travelling in - it could be its top-of-the-range Superb or Kodiaq models. Or perhaps the Pope - a modest man who eschews luxury and extravagance - might opt for the Fabia or Citigo models.

Ms Casey also told the programme that they were seeking to raise €21m in sponsorship to cover the entire visit, which also includes a trip to Knock, Co Mayo, on Sunday, August 24.

She said the cost of staging the papal Mass in Phoenix Park would come to €1m (£892,000) alone.

Ms Casey declined to say how much has been raised so far, but did reiterate that there was no State funding for the event.

Half-a-million people are expected to attend the Mass in the Phoenix Park, which also features some 7,000 general volunteers, 3,000 papal volunteers in the choir, and another 2,000-plus assisting with the holy communion.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has assumed responsibility for preparing the park and the thousands of volunteers.

The OPW says there will be "multiple food and drink stations" throughout the park, along with designated 'Rest Zones'.

The World Meeting of Families team has warned those attending the Phoenix Park event that they can expect to walk up to 7km in the approach to the venue and in to the park itself.

Belfast Telegraph

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