FOUR people were arrested around the country this morning by gardaí who believed they were en route to Cork for today’s anti lockdown demonstration.
More than 200 members of An Garda Síochána were involved in policing the event, which was attended by hundreds and passed off peacefully.
In Kildare, a man and a woman were arrested, while a man was arrested in North Cork and another in Kerry.
"Gardaí in Cork City division put in place an extensive and comprehensive policing plan in light of a proposed event planned on social media," An Garda Síochána said this afternoon.
"Cork City Division Gardaí were supported by the wider Garda Southern Region and National Units including Garda Mounted Unit, Garda Dog Unit, Garda Air Support Unit and Garda National Public Order Unit.
"In excess of 200 members of An Garda Síochána were directly involved in this policing operation."
Two people were also arrested in Cork city this afternoon – a street performer who was arrested under the Health Act 1947 and another who was arrested in relation to a public order offence.
A garda spokesman said the arrests in north Cork, Kildare and Kerry were made at checkpoints at which they refused to return home after being advised to do so by gardaí.
The crowds who gathered in Cork city centre this afternoon for an anti-lockdown demonstration have started to disperse, with the event passing off peacefully.
There continues to be a major garda presence on Patrick Street and in surrounding areas, with the city also being monitored by the Garda helicopter.
Hundreds of people were at the event, organised by the People's Convention. A number of public figures spoke out and asked the public not to take part, including Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Cork city Lord Mayor Joe Kavanagh.
But many ignored those calls, with at least 500 estimated to be in attendance.
Speakers at the event were sharply critical of Government policy aimed at suppressing Covid-19 and called for an end to the current restrictions.
There is a major garda presence in Cork city centre this afternoon where a large crowd has gathered to take part in an anti-lockdown demonstration.
The Garda helicopter can be seen hovering over the city as several hundred people listen to speeches on Patrick Street.
Some are carrying anti-lockdown placards and others are handing out leaflets referencing ‘fake politicians’.
Some side streets off Patrick Street have been cordoned off and there are groups of uniformed gardaí in place the length of the main street.
One arrest was made in the city centre earlier, when a man refused to comply with directions from gardaí, but a garda spokesperson said the arrest was ‘not linked to any demonstration or movement’.
It is understood he was a street performer and he is currently detained at Anglesea Street Garda Station.
Garda sources told The Echo that major resources were put in place for today’s policing operation.
A demonstration in Dublin last weekend led to ugly scenes, with three gardaí injured and more than 20 people arrested.
A section of the Placards at todays Anti Lockdown Assembly at Patrick Street in Cork City .— Joe Seward (@JoeSeward1) March 6, 2021
So far no incidents just a series of speakers all with a similar message.
Strong Garda presence- they were welcomed by the first speaker .#lockdown #Cork #corkprotest pic.twitter.com/Ijc1WKQjYU
But rally organisers insisted today’s event will be peaceful and ignored calls from politicians to cancel it.
Spokesperson Diarmaid Ó Cadhla said: “Saturday’s event will be a peaceful family one, including a number of speakers and musicians, everyone should attend”.
As well as policing potential public order issues, gardaí will be enforcing public health regulations this afternoon, because the event is deemed non-essential.
Gardaí have said they will also be enforcing the 5km travel limit regulations.