Demonstration against Irish lockdown passes peacefully

Rebecca Black, PA
·4 min read

A demonstration against lockdown restrictions in Ireland has passed off without incident.

The gathering in Cork came a week after a similar event ended in violent scenes in the capital Dublin.

There was a heavy police presence and some shops boarded up their windows as an estimated crowd of several hundred gathered on Patrick Street.

Coronavirus – Sat Mar 6, 2021
Gardai stop and search people before a demonstration against lockdown restrictions organised by the People’s Convention in Cork city centre (Niall Carson/PA)

Public gatherings are currently banned under the coronavirus regulations.

Garda said more than 200 officers were involved in Saturday’s policing operation.

Two men were arrested in Cork city, one for a breach of coronavirus regulations and the other for public order offences.

Checkpoints were carried out by Garda on routes to Cork, and organisers have claimed that some who had been planning to attend the demonstration were turned back.

Garda said four arrests were made linked to the event in Cork.

Three men and one woman were arrested in Kildare, Kerry and County Cork for failing to comply with Garda directions.

There had been pleas to call off the event, including by the city’s Lord Mayor Joe Kavanagh and government minister Simon Coveney.

Demonstration organisers the People’s Convention said it would be a “peaceful assembly”.

Coronavirus – Sat Mar 6, 2021
People part in a demonstration against lockdown restrictions organised by the People’s Convention in Cork city centre (Niall Carson/PA)

Speeches were heard by participants carrying banners, some of which read “Tell the Truth” and “Freedom Not Tyranny”.

It ended with the singing of the National Anthem.

Last weekend in Dublin, there were chaotic scenes at an anti lockdown protest, and 23 arrests were made as well as three Garda officers injured.

Coronavirus – Sat Feb 27, 2021
A protestor throws a plastic barrier at Garda on Grafton Street in Dublin at an anti lockdown protest on February 27 (Damen Eagers/PA)

Earlier, Irish Premier Micheal Martin hailed the coronavirus vaccine rollout after the number of doses administered hit the half a million milestone.

In a video posted on Twitter, the Taoiseach said he had been inspired by recent visits to vaccination centres where thousands of frontline healthcare workers were receiving the inoculation.

He said the Government and the HSE are doing everything they can to secure supplies and to give vaccines to people as quickly as possible.

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The first coronavirus vaccine in Ireland was was given to Dublin pensioner Annie Lynch 63 days ago.

“Next week we will begin to vaccinate those with underlying health conditions as well as continuing to vaccinate the over-70s and healthcare workers,” Mr Martin said.

The Taoiseach said the vaccines are reducing the impact of the virus, adding: “This can be seen in the reduced levels of infection in our nursing homes and amongst our frontline healthcare workers.

“This brings hope, along with the continued fall in Covid numbers, thanks to the sacrifices you have been making.

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“The 14-day incidence level fell below 200 this week for the first time since Christmas.

“While our health services are still under pressure, the number of patients in our hospitals and ICUs is reducing significantly.”

However, he added a note of caution, warning that variants of the virus mean people should not relax in observing restrictions.

On Saturday the number of patients with Covid-19 dropped to 99, with the number of cases in hospital at 401.

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Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, described it as a “great sign”.

On Friday, one further death with the virus and 522 new cases were notified in the Republic of Ireland