Crowds gathered in Dublin parks and along Grand Canal ‘appalling,’ Minister says

Videos circulating on social media show large groups gathered in Dublin
Crowds gathered in Dublin parks and along Grand Canal ‘appalling,’ Minister says

Vivienne Clarke

The Minister for Finance has described crowds of people drinking in parks in Dublin as “appalling”.

Videos circulating on social media show large groups gathered in Milltown, St Stephen's Green and along the Grand Canal.

Paschal Donohoe told Newstalk radio the scenes were unacceptable and could undo progress made to suppress Covid-19.

“They’re appalling scenes, and it’s exactly the risk of that kind of behaviour that runs the risk of unravelling the progress that we are making,” he said.

“[It runs the risk of] making it even more difficult to get to a better place for our country in the coming weeks and months.”

Four out of five vaccinated

Speaking earlier on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Mr Donohoe defended the Government’s decision to change the vaccine rollout programme to an age-based system.

The scientific advice was that such a system would be quicker and that by vaccinating on the basis of age, four out of five people will have been vaccinated by the end of June, he said.

Vaccinating on the basis of profession would slow down the programme, he said, and posed a greater challenge to public health.

The decision reflected the advice the Government had received – that there was a greater risk of serious illness the older the person infected. The advice was “crystal clear” he said, that risk increased with age.

Mr Donohoe said the country was indebted to workers like gardaí and teachers and that a step-by-step phased reopening would help to get to a better place.

When asked when the “very high risk” cohort would be fully vaccinated, Mr Donohoe said that every effort was being made to vaccinate “our most vulnerable” as soon as possible.

Quarantine and children's shoes

On the issue of extending mandatory quarantine to people arriving into Ireland from France, Germany and the USA, the Minister said the Government was considering the public health advice on this and whether there was the capacity to bring such a large number of additional people into the mandatory quarantine setting.

“If we can’t do that we will look at alternative ways to do that safely,” he said. That decision will only be made if it could be implemented safely, he added.

Mr Donohoe reacted strongly to a suggestion that his party had a history with the issue of children’s shoes, saying that the issue would be examined in May along with the reopening of non-essential retail.

In the meantime, the reopening of schools was the priority. He said he rejected any suggestion that he was not aware of the needs of families with young children.

“Everything we have been doing has been about saving lives,” he said. The Minister said he appreciated that some of the decisions made to save lives could create difficult situations.

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