A senior Government official has appealed to any young person who “slipped up” and attended a street party in Limerick to come forward for Covid-19 testing if they have concerns.
Liz Canavan, assistant secretary at the Department of the Taoiseach, said it would not be fair to generalise following the scenes on the streets in Limerick as most young people were adhering to public health measures.
Videos on social media showed a large crowd of revellers in the Castletroy area of the city on Tuesday night.
Three people were arrested after gardai broke up the student street party.
Gardai also issued approximately 30 fixed payment notices for Covid-19 regulation breaches.
We have to have patience and keep remembering that this virus is not finished with us yetLiz Canavan
Speaking at Government Buildings, Ms Canavan said: “It would be easy to generalise but it wouldn’t be fair and it wouldn’t be accurate.
“The majority of young people are doing great and they have missed out on a lot.
“If you have slipped up and were part of last night’s events, the best thing you can do is come forward for Covid testing.”
Representatives from the University of Limerick met gardai on Wednesday to discuss the incident.
In a statement, a spokesman for the university said: “UL has consistently liaised and worked with gardai to remind students of their personal responsibility to follow government and institutional guidelines.
“UL has provided resources for high-visibility Covid-19 Garda policing with a focus on estates in the immediate vicinity of the campus.
Students at UL are subject to a code of conduct. Any student found to have attended the gathering will face suspension, pending a full investigation, or possible expulsionUniversity of Limerick
“UL deplores the behaviour of a small minority of students living in the off-campus estates in private rented accommodation.
“Following a policing operation and continued and orchestrated non-compliance with public health regulations and failing to comply with directions from An Garda Siochana, gardai were forced to intervene in the situation.
“A number of individuals were arrested and fixed charge notices were issued following the incident.
“The university is conducting an investigation to identify any UL students who took part in the gathering, which represents a serious breach of both the public health restrictions and the institutional code of conduct.
“Students at UL are subject to a code of conduct. Any student found to have attended the gathering will face suspension, pending a full investigation, or possible expulsion.”
Ms Canavan went on to say that the UK variant of the virus accounts for about 90% of all Covid-19 cases in Ireland.
“On average, one in three household contacts of confirmed cases of this new B117 variant are now testing positive,” she said.
“With the earlier variant, less than one in five household contacts were testing positive.
“This means that we have to work as hard, if not harder, to interrupt transmission.”
She added: “What we must not forget is how easily the trajectory can turn, especially with the new variant of the disease.
“This is the moment when we have to have patience and keep remembering that this virus is not finished with us yet.”
Ms Canavan described the return of schoolchildren to classrooms this week as a “welcome step” forward, but urged parents not to congregate around school gates and not to arrange playdates for their children.
She warned that the latest data from the Economic and Social Research Institute (Esri) shows there has been a notable increase in workplace, retail and recreation movement.
Data for the week ending February 26 revealed a 14% increase in workplace mobility in the month, while retail and recreation was up 4%.
Ms Canavan described footfall in busy towns and cities as “creeping up steadily”, with monthly volumes in Dublin up 17% on the previous month. It represents an increase of 547,000 people moving around.
Overall traffic volumes were up 8% on the previous week, and 9% since January, with every county showing an increase in traffic week on week.
“I cannot emphasise enough that we must all continue to work from home, unless our work is deemed essential work, which requires our physical presence,” she said.
“And we are asking employers to ensure they are facilitating this.
“Our return to school is not a signal to return to work; in fact, it could jeopardise our plans.
“We also need to stay within our five-kilometre radius even though it is difficult.”