People who believe the threat of Covid-19 is being overstated and many frustrated with the ongoing level five restrictions were among the crowd that gathered on Patrick Street today for the ‘Rally for Truth’.
Despite pleas to the public to stay away from the anti-lockdown protest, hundreds turned out for the event in Cork city centre today.
There were fears of unrest following the violent scenes in Dublin last weekend following a demonstration but the Cork event passed off peacefully.
One attendee, John O’ Donoghue, toldhe wanted the Government to stop trying to wrap everyone in cotton wool.
Mr O’Donoghue said while he felt the protesters were unlikely to be listened to, they had to try and do something.
Mr O’Donoghue believes the Government are constantly lying and that Covid is another one of their lies.
“There was something that arrived last march via China, I accept that, but at this stage, no. I would say the new variants come from the vaccines," he said. "I just see so-called health experts with no masks, telling everyone else to wear a mask, it doesn’t make sense.
“There was no covid outbreak from the golfgate party. I see people in misery, living in fear. It's gone overboard, if people want to get one with living their life, they should be allowed. I want to get back to normal."
Two 24-year-old men told The Echo, they were there because while they believe there is a virus, they think the restrictions are too much.
“Ireland has been in lockdown the longest and we have had the highest numbers, it's not working, this isn’t living with Covid. It's not fair on the people and it's very hard on people.
“There is a virus, of course, there is a virus, but you can’t just stay in lockdown forever, people have to live.”
The two young men believe the nation has become fixated on the Covid deaths.
“No other deaths matter and that’s not right. We are not against it, but the way the Government has dealt with it, it affects us as young people. Some of the policies don’t make sense, you can go to supermarkets, but you cant go to gyms by appointment.”
The two men said they felt the mainstream media was also one-sided and were not telling the full story.
“Last week, in Dublin, the media fixated on the one guy who let off a firework, most of the people there were just families, small business owners, concerned parents, they weren’t represented in the media at all, it’s not fair, it’s one-sided. People are being suppressed and censored, we are sick of it.”
Another young woman in her twenties said the fallout from the lockdowns was worse than the virus itself.
“I’m against lockdowns, I think it’s ineffective. I acknowledge Covid exists but I think there is a worldwide overreaction and its time for public discourse. I would like the country reopened.”
The woman toldshe thought “big tech and big pharma” are in control of the Irish government.
“I believe they are dictating the policies along with Nphet who are just playing a numbers game, so I would like to see the reopening of the country and people going back to their normal lives.
“My child can’t play with other kids and I think that is having a damaging effect on their mental health. Some kids being born into this and think this is normal and this is not normal.”
The woman said she thought more and more people were supporting the cause.
“More people are getting sick of this and realising this is a farce.”
In relation to catching Covid from attending the rally, the woman said she was not concerned.
“I don’t have any concern about catching Covid from attending here today, the Covid-19 virus that everyone seems to be so afraid of, has a 99.6% survival rate, I 27 years old, I’m young and I’m healthy so I’m not concerned about it at all and I don’t think there is an asymptomatic spread either, I don’t believe in that.”
Cork camogie players Katrina and Pamela Mackey were also protesting today on Patrick Street.
The twins said it was extremely difficult to adhere to the restrictions and there seemed to be no exit plan.
The Cork camogie players said that livelihoods were at stake and the beneficial impact of sport was being ignored.
“It’s not fair and it’s not right.”
Among the speeches was spokesperson for the organisers, Diarmaid O’Cadhla.
“The numbers are exaggerated” he said during his speech, followed by shouts from the crowd asking 'where are all the sick people?'.
Chants of “Scamdemic” came from the crowd.
A man who introduced himself at Paddy Bullman from Youghal spoke about how the Government is not trying to stop the spread of a deadly disease but were actually trying to stop the spread of “the truth.”
Among the crowd was a girl with an 'Irish lives matter' sign around her neck.
Mr Bullman spoke about bailing out the banks and politician pay rises as examples of hypocrisy within the Government and reasons not to believe the ongoing global pandemic.
Mr O’Cadhla said said the “peaceful assembly” was supposed to be open to all but said some people had been turned away from the protest, which instigated shouts of ‘shame’ from the crowd.
Gardaí said this afternoon that four people believed to be en route to Cork city for the protest had been arrested.
The rally spokesperson said the UN Human Rights did not stipulate anything about a 5km radius and said he wanted to ask Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar if we are in a free democratic society?
“We are here to demand the truth” Mr O’Cadhla said.
The spokesperson said the Government were “scaremongering” and people were living in fear, needlessly.