| 15.6°C Belfast

Gardai probe alleged lockdown breaches at Dublin Black Lives Matter protest

The chief medical officer cautioned anyone against attending any similar mass gatherings while coronavirus restrictions remain in place.

Close

Dr Tony Holohan recognised the motivation behind the protests but reiterated that health advice had not changed (Niall Carson/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan recognised the motivation behind the protests but reiterated that health advice had not changed (Niall Carson/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan recognised the motivation behind the protests but reiterated that health advice had not changed (Niall Carson/PA)

Gardai are investigating a large Black Lives Matter protest in Dublin over alleged lockdown breaches.

An estimated 5,000 people gathered at various sites in the city on Monday, marching from O’Connell Street to stage a mass demonstration outside the US embassy in Ballsbridge.

They were protesting against the death of black man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

Large gatherings are banned in Ireland under Covid-19 regulations.

Close

Thousands of people demonstrated outside the US embassy in Dublin on Monday (Niall Carson/PA)

Thousands of people demonstrated outside the US embassy in Dublin on Monday (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Thousands of people demonstrated outside the US embassy in Dublin on Monday (Niall Carson/PA)

The Garda said there was no advance consultation about the protest, which was organised on social media, but they said those identified as “organisers” did proactively engage with them during the event.

Gardai said the size of the event “substantially exceeded” the expectations of the organisers. They said there were attempts to mark out social distancing guidelines at the outset of the protest, on O’Connell St.

A Garda spokesman added: “An Garda Siochana is investigating this matter and the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be sought in respect of any further actions to be taken.”

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan stressed that mass public gatherings represented a risk to life when he was asked about the protest at the daily Covid-19 briefing.

The CMO said he recognised the motivation behind the event and the emotions of participants, but he urged the importance of avoiding a repeat.

Close

Dr Tony Holohan urged people not to attend mass gatherings (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan urged people not to attend mass gatherings (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Dr Tony Holohan urged people not to attend mass gatherings (Brian Lawless/PA)

More protests are being organised for Saturday.

“In general terms, we’re still clear that the advice now is not for mass gatherings to take place whether indoors or outdoors,” said Dr Holohan.

“We would be advising anyone who’s contemplating organising a mass gathering, for whatever reason, that now is not the time for people who are contemplating attending such events.

“We understand people’s motivation, and emotions that might have been involved with people in relation to some of the events that took place on the weekend – I don’t want to not recognise that, but our public health advice has not changed.”

The CMO added: “So notwithstanding your sense of feeling and so on, now is not the right time to be attending events that have the potential to become mass gatherings if many more like-minded people like you, however well motivated, attend.

“And so I’d be asking people to exercise judgement in their decisions to attend on the basis of them becoming essentially impromptu mass gathering events.”

He urged anyone who took part in Monday’s event to be aware of any potential developing symptoms of coronavirus.

PA