The Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Joe Kavanagh has pleaded with the organisers of tomorrow’s rally in the city centre to “please cancel it” or the work put into achieving such low Covid case numbers “could go out the window”.
“Tomorrow there’s a planned protest march which is likely to create a large gathering of people in the centre of our city. I’m not a medical expert and don’t claim to be but we’re all guided by medical experts who actually know what they are talking about.
“What they have quite clearly stated is that any large gathering should be avoided and tomorrow qualifies as a large gathering, so I’m calling on whoever is organising this gathering to please cancel it,” he said.
Praising the perseverance of the people of Cork, he added: “We’ve done so well here and the people really have put Cork on the map. We are now one of the top counties and cities in the country in terms of case numbers and the resilience of the people of Cork is absolutely exemplary - I am so proud of what Cork people have achieved.
Mr Kavanagh continued: “I fully understand the frustration of people – for a year people have felt caged, their lives have been restricted, their ways of life restricted, their businesses have suffered, they’ve lost loved ones in a lot of cases but unfortunately the type of event that’s proposed in our city tomorrow could present all kinds of problems for the people of Cork in the long term.
“For the sake of your communities, our businesses and most especially our loved ones, I urge people thinking of going into the city to this event tomorrow to avoid doing so.”
However, the organisers of the ‘Rally for truth’ have said the reason they are holding the event is to seek answers on a number of issues including: ending lockdown, the treatment of the elderly and people’s right to work and travel.
Appointed spokesperson by the organisers, Diarmaid Ó Cadhla said: “Saturday’s event will be a peaceful family one, including a number of speakers and musicians, everyone should attend”.
In response to queries from The Echo, a spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said they had no comment to make in respect of potential events which may or may not occur.
However, they did outline the relevant Covid-19 regulations currently in place: “The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020, as amended, are currently in force.
“Regulation 8 places restrictions on individuals organising relevant events outdoors. This is a penal regulation.
“Regulation 4 places restrictions on travel outside the home except for a reasonable excuse. This is a penal regulation.
They continued: “An Garda Síochána has no role in permitting or authorising protest marches or gatherings, as there is no permit/ authorisation required for such events.
“Where An Garda Síochána can identify potential organisers of such events, An Garda Síochána has and will engage and advise those organisers as to the current Public Health Regulations, their responsibilities and potential consequences.
“A decision as to whether any protest takes place or not is a matter for the organisers, in full knowledge of the current Public Health Regulations.” They also highlighted their approach to policing the restrictions: “Garda members engage, explain, encourage and, as a last resort, enforce. Where Gardaí find potential breaches of the public health regulations a file is prepared for the DPP in each case or a Fixed Payment Notice is issued where appropriate.
“The Covid-19 Pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to comply with Public Health Regulations and Guidelines, in particular essential journeys, in order to continue to save lives.”