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Government considers banning protests as Coveney slams anti-mask march

Minister for Foregin Affairs Simon Coveney has said the Government will consider banning protests following a large demonstration against the compulsory use of masks in Dublin over the weekend.

Coveney told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny that he was “not happy” about the protest and most people watching would have been “infuriated by it.”

“I think decent people who think about Covid and listen to the public health advice, would have watched those images and been infuriated by it, we live in a democracy and people that have different views need to be able to express them, and we need to be able to get the balance right between allowing that and also protecting broader public health.

“We need to discuss whether we got that right yesterday or not. I have a lot of sympathy for the guards on this issue because managing public protests and getting that balance right is not easy.”

The Corkman said the government would attempt to strike a balance between people’s right to protest and ensuring “law and order is respected.”

“This is a difficult balancing act, I have to say that the people who were involved in that protest do not represent a majority review, in fact they represent a very, very small minority view,” he said.

“It is very unwelcome that people are foolhardy enough to think that they can ignore all of the public health advice, all of the doctors that are repeating the message over and over again, of our national public health team at Nphet, and the Minister for Health and the Government messages, they’re ignoring all of that because they see conspiracies in everything, and they just demand the freedom to walk around without restrictions — that is a tiny minority view.”

Whilst warning Dubliners that they might face further restrictions on visiting other people’s homes, the minister made clear that the government is planning to tackle the issue of protests by bringing proposals to Cabinet.

“I am not happy, most of the people who saw that demonstration on television would have been angered by it, that’s why I’m saying that the Government needs to try to get the balance right between the right to protest and be heard and the law and the regulations and guidelines that we have to protect the public. We’ll be discussing that balance in Government today. The Covid meeting today after which hopefully we’ll be able to sign off on a plan that we’ll bring to Government for full decision tomorrow.”

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