MEMBERS of the public are being asked not to attend any rally against anti-Covid restrictions being organised for Cork city centre this weekend.
Speaking to The Echo, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said while she knows people are frustrated and angry, they must be mindful the virus is still circulating.
“In normal circumstances, the idea that you couldn’t leave beyond 5km of your home would be absolutely outrageous and all of us would be out protesting. But, in these circumstances, I would just say to people, remember that the virus is still being transmitted at relatively high levels. Our first duty has to be to keep ourselves and other people safe.
“I am as critical of the Government efforts as anyone else, but your anger or your frustration needs to be channeled in a way that makes things better, not in a way that makes things worse. The reason I would ask people not to come out on the streets in that manner is because it’s not safe to do that.
Fianna Fáil councillor Colm Kelleher said a number of people had approached him regarding an anti-Covid restrictions event advertised on social media.
“While the right to protest is enshrined in the Constitution and I completely support that, no one has the right to endanger lives. Mass gatherings are prohibited and this is a recipe for disaster. The hard work we have done as a locality could be undone,” he said.
“As chair of Cork City’s Joint Policing Committee, I expect and know that all elected members will discourage persons intending to attend any unlawful gathering in the city given the current pandemic. I would implore members of the public not to attend any such event. Public health has to and will come first,” he added.
The comments came after a protest in Dublin at the weekend led to violent scenes, with three gardaí injured and more than 20 people arrested.
A spokesperson for a group organising an anti-lockdown rally in Cork City this weekend has said “there is no relationship” between the happenings in Dublin over the weekend and the upcoming protest.
Former Cork County councillor and spokesperson for The People’s Convention (CPPC), Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, said that “a handful of people messed things up in Dublin” and that the group’s intention at Saturday’s rally is to oppose current Government policy.
“This all started out a year ago with the Government saying we’ll have a two-week lockdown to flatten the curve. Ireland now has had the longest lockdown in Europe,” he said.
He said that the group “are not Covid deniers” and that he is “very aware there is a virus going around” but that there is an increase in the lack of confidence in the Government’s policy.
Mr Ó Cadhla said the Government “is destroying domestic business, they’re putting people out of jobs”.
In response to a query from The Echo, a spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said there are a number of Public Health measures currently in place including Regulations surrounding essential travel and they will be investigating any breaches of these regulations.