At least 200 people have attended a rally in Cork city centre this afternoon to protest the current public health restrictions.
Protesters gathered on the Grand Parade before marching through the city centre calling for the Government to 'end the lockdown'.
The march ended in front of Brown Thomas where a speaker system had been set up. Several speeches were made, including one from organiser spokesperson Diarmaid Ó Cadhla, and music was played.
There was a visible garda presence on city centre streets, with uniformed gardaí on foot and on bicycles and a number of plainclothes officers also in attendance.
There is a visible Garda presence in Cork city centre this afternoon, with a rally protesting current public health restrictions underway.
A protest sign was hung on the Grand Parade and protesters marched through the city, chanting 'end the lockdown'.
The gathered crowd, estimated to be in excess of 150 people, are now listening to speeches calling for an end to the current restrictions.
Gardaí on foot patrol and on bikes are in attendance and a Garda source told The Echo gardaí are prepared for any and every eventuality.
Gardaí have said 'attending an organised event is not a reasonable excuse to travel' ahead of an anti-lockdown protest due to take place in Cork city today from 2pm.
The event, which is advertised as a peaceful public assembly, is being organised by the ‘Independent Campaign for TRUTH and Proper Public Healthcare’.
Spokesperson Diarmaid Ó Cadhla said the Government's continued imposition of restriction in order to fight the Covid-19 pndemic is a continued denial of fundamental civil rights.
Mr Ó Cadhla also said the decision to continue lockdown will further damage people’s health.
The ‘Parade for Truth’ is due to begin 2pm beside the National Monument on Grand Parade, from where protesters will march down St Patrick’s Street, to a rally outside Brown Thomas which will be addressed by a number of speakers and musicians, all demanding an end to the lockdown.
The protest has been criticised by Labour Councillor John Maher,who said it will not achieve anything but putting vulnerable people at risk of infection.
Speaking to The Echo, Mr Maher said the planned gathering annoyed him.
“We are being asked to listen to the advice of Nphet and have some respect for the frontline workers, many of whom are not vaccinated, such as Gardaí, Pharmacy staff and supermarket employees.”
There was a large and visible police presence in the city for a similar protest, organised by the same group, on March 6.
In a statement to The Echo, a spokesperson for An Garda Siochana said attending an organised event is not a reasonable excuse to travel outside your home.
“The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No.10) Regulations 2020, as amended, are currently in force," a spokesperson said. "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.”
Concluding the Garda spokesperson said: “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.”