'Ireland has become a prison': Protesters in Cork city fed up of restrictions and mistrustful of Government 

'Ireland has become a prison': Protesters in Cork city fed up of restrictions and mistrustful of Government 

Crowds on St Patrick's Street today. Picture: Larry Cummins

One of the speakers at an anti-lockdown protest in Cork city on Saturday called on people to campaign within their 5km radius for the relaxation of restrictions. 

At least 200 people marched through city centre streets this afternoon, with rally spokesperson Diarmaid Ó Cadhla leading a chant of 'end the lockdown' as they marched.

Protesters gathered at Grand Parade and made their way to the other end of Patrick Street, outside Brown Thomas, where they heard a number of speeches and musical performances. 

Prior to the protest, a Garda source said the gardaí were well prepared for any and every eventuality but it passed off peacefully. At least three Garda bikes and a dozen high visibility Gardaí along with a Public Order Unit Garda van were on stand-by.

Addressing the crowd, Erin Joyce said: “We are not happy with the situation we are in, we are not happy with the Government. 

"The lockdown is immoral. People are suffering because of lockdown restrictions"

Organiser Diarmaid Ó Cadhla thanked the Gardaí for their “peaceful stewarding” of the event and their lack of interference.

Music and songs for the crowds on St Patrick's Street, Cork City for the peaceful Anti-Lockdown protest rally. Picture: Larry Cummins
Music and songs for the crowds on St Patrick's Street, Cork City for the peaceful Anti-Lockdown protest rally. Picture: Larry Cummins

Mr Ó Cadhla emphasized that the rally was a peaceful protest and took issue with accusations made by elected representatives in relation to the rally.

“They said we are creating a super spreader event," he said. "Not true, the numbers have come down. 

"We were accused of creating conditions for violence, this was wrong, we stand here peacefully.” 

The former county councillor said their message to the Government was to end the lockdown. He also accused the media of not seeking the truth, which was greeted with chants of fake news.

“The government is an amateur joke,” Mr Ó Cadhla said, “I”m asking people to campaign within their 5km for the cause of “end the lockdown.” 

“Every Monday, 4pm, the Monday March” Mr Ó Cadhla encouraged, emphasizing it must remain peaceful.

“Don't pay fines. If needs be, we will end up in court, before a judge” 

Mr O’Cadhla told the large crowd to request to go to court, saying: “If they want to fine us, let's flood the courts.”

One woman attending the protest said she was suspicious of the Government and thought the virus could be prevented and cured.

“I've basically been asking lots of questions and doing my own research and I don’t think the Government is being transparent," she told The Echo

“There are a lot of things out there that can prevent people from dying from this virus, it is preventable, there are studies out there, you have to look for them, but they are there.” 

The woman feels mental illness is the biggest problem caused by the lockdown restrictions, saying: “I know personally people who are suffering because of the lockdown.” 

Another man at the protest said he was 'fed up'. 

“The worst part is being stuck in a 5km radius, Ireland has become a prison.” 

The man said in an ideal world, everything should be opened up.

“If you are worried about a virus, stay home, if we want to risk it we should be allowed to take that risk," he said. 

"It is our bodies, we decide what we want." 

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