Concerns have been raised about anti-vaccination messaging in West Cork, including the use of disturbing stickers at a family-oriented Halloween event.
A West Cork dad who attended the Scarecrow Festival in Leap at the weekend said he was shocked by stickers that had been attached to a number of the exhibits, unbeknownst to festival organisers and creators of the exhibits.
The stickers, seen by The Echo, showed needles arranged in the shape of a swastika.
The father, who removed the stickers so others wouldn’t see them, said he was disgusted that people would use a family event in this way.
"I have no issue with people having an opinion," he said.
“This is one of West Cork's most famous and respected festivals, not a platform for people to spread their propaganda."
One of the festival organisers, Ruthann Sheahan, also slammed the behaviour, stressing that the festival prides itself on being a non-political event.
"It's disappointing that someone would try to use the festival in this way when it is intended to be in jest and good fun," she said.
“There are no political agendas. We had not seen the stickers and are grateful to the person who took them down before anyone had a chance to see them."
Ruthann said that the festival is about bringing people together.
"We are not about shoving political agendas down people's throats,” she said. “This is about representing the community and bringing people together.
West Cork TD, Fianna Fáil's Christopher O'Sullivan was critical of both the stickers and other anti-vaccination messages which have appeared in the area, but stressed that overall people in the area support vaccination.
"Some of the road signage has been graffitied with anti-vax sentiment,” he said “It's unfortunate that this messaging is out there because it's false and comparisons to Nazism are fundamentally wrong.
“I have to stress, however, that this is a minority. The compliance has been amazing in West Cork in terms of the vaccination rate. The uptake has been really good. A huge percentage of those in hospital are unvaccinated so there is clear evidence that the vaccinations are working. We need to be encouraging people to get vaccinated because it's proven to save lives and decrease the effects of the illness."